Class Notes: The Revolution Will Be Tweeted | #MeToo Case Study

Notes from our class on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. 

#MeToo
  • Is this a social media phenomenon?
    • Replicated really quickly
    • News outlets started talking about – it went outside social media
      • Lots of influence
    • Going across platforms – from Twitter to Facebook, etc
      • Convergences of media
      • Really wide reach
  • Who, what, when, where, why?
How might we define #MeToo as a social media phenomenon?
  • Historical trajectory
  • Social practises – women raises their voices about a cultural issue
  • Boyd: tools, practises, ideologies
  • Humphreys: set of practises
How might be study it?
  • Technology
    • What are some facets of our technological scene that afforded this phenomenon?
      • Scale – we can see the sheer size of the number of people who are participating in the #MeToo hashtag
      • Spread through many different communities, all around the world
    • What are some facets of our technological scene that contributed to this phenomenon?
    • Technology affords the ability to share asynchronous, mass sharing or personal testimonies across multiple networks
  • Culture
    • Example: Lupita Nyong’o’s piece for the New York Times
    • Culture of social media is that it provides a support system – it allows people to know that there are others out there who feel the same way that they do
    • Provenance:
      • History of the term “Me Too”
      • Started in 2006, Tarana Burke (the creator of the original social movement) started a MySpace page
      • Got lots of response to the MySpace page by adult women
        • Because is was asynchronous it allowed other women to see the information in a different time and place and relate to it
      • “It will take more than a hashtag to the do the real work”
        • And it will likely fade in the public eye
    • Emergence: Alyssa Milano
      • “Suggested by a friend” – she does not claim ownership
      • Meme – cultural product of a society (Me Too became a meme)
  • Society
    • How many people participated in #MeToo?
    • What does participation mean?
      • Tweeted it? Retweeted? Liked?
    • What was the nature of their participation?
Research Methods
  • Let’s look at how we might discover the nature of people’s participation.
    • Searching the hashtag on Twitter
    • Examine the affordances of the social media platform – what does it use? Retweets, likes, etc.
    • Analyze the discourse surrounding the discourse of the hashtag – are people making fun of it? How many people are genuine?
    • Analyzing the nuance within the tweets – how many people shared personal stories versus stayed distant?
    • Examine the response – how people feel about the effects of the hashtag
    • Look for news articles – what is the mass media response to the movement?
    • What is the volume of participation? Number of tweets, etc.
  • Researching a social interaction:
    • Humphreys: Chapter 4
      • Digital anthropology
      • Textual analysis
      • Network analysis
      • Machine learning and big data
    • Search on PRIMO, Google Scholar, even Amazon
  • Ways of researching
    • Google trends
    • News articles
    • Social media platforms
      • Assemble corpus
      • Extract specific materials
    • Research articles
Example Method: “Totally Straight” article by Robard
  • Rationale: to better understand the phenomenon of “enhanced heterosexuals” by exploring activities on a specific rubreddit
  • 3-month study analyzing 186 posts across three one-week samples (always on the second week of each month)
  • Three samples were taken to gain representative set of posts
  • Gathered specific data – date, username, score, etc etc
  • Came to a conclusion/theory about the community
Why? There’s very little research done on Reddit- so this is one of the earliest/first studies. Also, this is someone identifying a phenomenon before it was disclosed to them through other sources.
Tools for our own research:
LIWC – text analysis tool
Word Clouds  – wordart.com/create
Ways of Analyzing
  • Close reading
  • Distant reading
  • Timeline mapping
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