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Dissertation submitted to the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, September 2007, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MSc in Politics and Communication. Supervised by Dr. Bart Cammaerts.
Published by Media@lse, London School of Economics and Political Science ("LSE"), Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. The LSE is a School of the University of London. It is a Charity and is incorporated in England as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Act (Reg number 70527).
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher nor be issued to the public or circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published. In the interests of providing a free flow of debate, views expressed in this dissertation are not necessarily those of the compilers or the LSE.
Twitter.com is a web-based communications platform combining Instant Messaging and SMS that enables subscribers to its service to send short \u2018status updates\u2019 to other people. Beyond its hybrid platform, Twitter\u2019s unique feature is its overarching question \u201cWhat are you doing?\u201d, which acts as a \u2018guidance note\u2019 on how users should phrase their postings. Although it is a \u2018soft restriction\u2019, meaning that other formats and styles are possible, this study investigates the extent to which users of Twitter are responding to the question. In the case that people are going beyond \u201cWhat are you doing?\u201d, are there commonalities in the \u2018other\u2019 uses thereof? To develop this premise, a content analysis of 60 users\u2019 postings was conducted to seek for deviations and to categorise them accordingly. To acquire a better understanding of why people use Twitter to disseminate messages, several users participated in a questionnaire to provide insight into the platform. Based on the content analysis\u2019 results, it is possible to conclude that the majority of Twitter users observed are appropriating the platform beyond \u201cWhat are you doing?\u201d. The findings are discussed within a theoretical framework exploring the role of society in shaping technology and the influence a technology\u2019s design may have on how it is used.
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