Participation structures in Twitter interaction

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In offering a new platform for electronically-mediated interaction, the Twittermedium brings with it new implications for participation. Building onGoffman’s (1981) production format, this paper argues for the role of broadcaster,a “followable” party that makes talk available to recipients, as a participantin Twitter interaction. Evidence from a corpus of tweets relating to theNational Hockey League (NHL) is presented, showing that the broadcaster rolecan be separated from Goffman’s traditional roles of animator, author, and principal.The broadcaster, however, is shown to be held responsible for talk producedfor the account, even when the broadcaster is demonstrably distinct fromother production roles. Additionally, the broadcaster is shown to be a potentialtarget of address in tweets from other Twitter users. This evidence suggests thatusers see the broadcaster as an active participant in the production of talk, andshould be included in participation frameworks for Twitter interaction.


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