Published in Proceedings of 2012 International Conference on Social Informatics [Published Version]
Social-media-supported academic conferences are
becoming increasingly global as people anywhere can participate
actively through backchannel conversation. It can be challenging
for the conference organizers to integrate the use of social media,
to take advantage of the connections between backchannel and
front stage, and to encourage the participants to be a part
of the broader discussion occurring through social media. As
academic conferences are different in nature, specialized tools
and methods are needed to analyze the vast amount of digital
data generated through the backchannel conversation, which can
offer key insights on best practices. In this paper we present our
two fold contribution to enable organizers to gain such insights.
First, we introduce Conference Monitor (CM), a real time webbased
tweet visualization dashboard to monitor the backchannel
conversation during academic conferences. We demonstrate the
features of CM, which are designed to help monitor academic
conferences and its application during the conference Theorizing
the Web 2012 (TtW12). Its real time visualizations helped identify
the popular sessions, the active and important participants and
trending topics during the conference. Second, we report on our
retrospective analysis of the tweets about the TtW12 conference
and the conference-related follower-networks of its participants.
The 4828 tweets from 593 participants resulted in 8:14 tweets
per participant. The 1591 new follower-relations created among
the participants during the conference confirmed the overall high
volume of new connections created during academic conferences.
We also observed that on average a speaker got more new
followers than a non-speaker. A few remote participants also
gained comparatively large number of new followers due to the
content of their tweets and their perceived importance to the
conference followers. There was a positive correlation between
the number of new followers of a participant and the number
of people who mentioned him/her. The analysis of the tweets
suggested that remote participants had a significant level of
participation in the backchannel and live streaming helped them
to be more engaged.
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