"Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging" is the title of a study that look s at the microblogging phenomena engendered by Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce. The authors--Akshay Java and Tim Finin of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Xiaodan Song and Belle Tseng of NEC Laboratories America--analyze user intentions associated with Twittering and figure out that users with similar intentions connect with each other. Not exactly a surprise.
The authors break down user intentions in their study, which analyzed two months of Twitter data (1,348,543 posts from76,177 unique users), ending May 30, 2007. Following are the user intentions gleaned from the study.
Daily Chatter: Most posts on Twitter talk about daily routine or what people are currentl doing. This is the largest and most common user of Twitter.
Conversations: In Twitter since there is no direct way for people to comment or reply to their friend’s posts, early adopters started using the @ symbol followed by a username for replies. About one eighth of all posts in the collection contain a conversation and this form of communication was used by almost 21% of users in the collection.
Sharing information/URLs: About 13% of all the posts in the collection contain some URL in them. Due to the small character limit a URL shortening service like TinyURL is frequently used to make this feature feasible.
Reporting news: Many users report latest news or comment about current events on Twitter. Some automated users or agents post updates like weather reports and new stories from RSS feeds. This is an interesting application of Twitter that has evolved due to easy access to the developer API.
The authors also break down the main categories of Twitter users.
Information Source: An information source is also a hub and has a large number of followers. This user may post updates on regular intervals or infrequently. Despite infrequent updates, certain users have a large number of followers due to the valuable nature of their updates. Some of the information sources were also found to be automated tools posting news and other useful information on Twitter.
Friends: Most relationships fall into this broad category. There are many sub-categories of friendships on Twitter. For example a user may have friends, family and co-workers on their friend or follower lists. Sometimes unfamiliar users may also add someone as a friend.
Information Seeker: An information seeker is a person who might post rarely, but follows other users regularly.
The authors conclude that 140-character-limit Twitter would benefit from having that the ability to categorize friends into groups and more sharing features. In other words, turn Twitter into more of a social network...like Pownce.
Via Twitter Facts