“Tweets in the limelight”

Routledge’s Asian Perspectives on Digital Culture, to which I have contributed a chapter, will be released next week. I noticed a few tweets yesterday welcoming the book, so I thought I’d chime in shyly. This post is not necessarily intended to be a self-promotional plug; I just love remembering how each of my projects first came into being. A little bit of marginalia, if you like. And yes, I can pinpoint the exact moments.

In this case, the whole thing was sparked by the tweet below by Simon Pegg in August 2010.


This was not the first time when I saw an individual tweet picked up by the news media. However, what followed the media reporting at that time, including the reaction of the author of the tweet himself, was quite different from what I observed previously in the Korean cultural context.

So, I started to wonder what kinds of tweets were selected by the Korean media as newsworthy and how those tweets were represented and discussed in the news. I shared preliminary findings at the MiT8 conference in Boston in 2013. The project has been further developed since, and this book chapter is the final product of it.

Titled ‘Tweets in the limelight’, it opens like this:

It is not uncommon around the world nowadays for individual tweets (messages of 140 characters or less posted on the social networking site Twitter) to become news items. In 2009, for example, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wrote an article about a “row” English actor and presenter Stephen Fry had on Twitter with a fellow user (BBC, 2009). In the Entertainment section of the online news outlet Huffington Post in 2012, there was an article attempting to interpret American pop singer Katy Perry’s every activity on Twitter a month after her then husband, comedian Russell Brand, had filed for divorce (Huffington Post, 2012). The British Prime Minister David Cameron’s tweet “I understand and support Barack Obama’s position on Syria” was read by many journalists as an important move in international relations surrounding military intervention in Syria in 2013 (e.g., McGregor, Blitz, & Aglionby, 2013).

I think this paragraph inadvertently but unmistakably shows how much time I spend on the Internet – all in the name of research, of course.


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