The author begs the question: is Twitter beneficial to scholars, especially during a live conference, or is it disruptive?
What I gathered from the paper was that using a backchannel such as Twitter during a conference is beneficial because communication can be achieved without interrupting the presenter, the main source of live communication. Through the utilization of Twitter, questions can be asked and answered as well as the introduction of new sources and references all during a live, up to date feed that does not interrupt the speaker. Using a backchannel for communication, such as Twitter, allows the audience to communicate.
Tweets from a conference were collected via specific hashtags then analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. They were sorted via username and number of posts per user as well as by the content of the post and put into specific categories. Categories included: “comments on presentations; sharing resources; discussions and conversations; jotting down notes; establishing an online presence; and asking organizational questions. Tweets which were highly ambiguous were placed in an Unknown category.”
The study found that in the Tweets, mostly monologues were posted. But there were, however, a few intermittent conversations between users. Quantitative numbers provided were examples such as 6.7% was re-tweets, and 45% of tweets were directed @(at) other users. They did discover that the majority of Tweets were notes about the conference.
Finally, they brought up the distinction between unofficial and official backchannels. The article discussed how new users or members of the discipline may not be able to participate in the discussions because they might not be included in the groups. Overall backchannels are beneficial.