Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Power and Structure of Tweeting

The virtual network I have decided to analyse between week 3 and week 8 is Twitter.
I decided to put aside my long-existing scepticism of Twitter and have now joined specifically for this class. As soon as I signed up and created my profile I found the experience quite surprising.
My first impression of the structure of Twitter was that it is not very user-friendly. It's much like many other social networks in which you are given a profile to describe yourself to potential friends, or in this case followers. You are able to 'tweet' things you are thinking about, videos and pictures you like, comments to people you are following as well as re-tweet what they are posting.
I found the structure to immediately position the user to focus on what other, more powerful users are doing and attempt to reach the same powerful status.

Power is not something that is simply extended over short or long distances, or something which radiates out from an identifiable central point, or something which engulfs places in ways that are all pervasive. Power is not some 'thing' that moves and it does not traverse and transect places or communities, so that we may be forgiven for thinking that it is all encompassing. Power, as I understand it, is a relational effect of social interaction (Allen, 2003). We can often overlook power within our society even though it is a driving force in our society; our readings this week take a closer look at forms of power and their influence on the world.

Twitter appears to be based on the social relationship of domination: nearly all power is concentrated in the hands of people of similar status, whereas people of different status enjoy almost no power (Petray, 2013).
The website immediately demanded that I follow various celebrities and popular figures. I did eventually find a few personal friends, however my first thoughts are that Twitter appears as a monarchy ruled by the elite. Those who have the most followers and have the most re-tweeted posts hold the highest level of power and influence over the social network.

I have yet to discover whether Twitter is empowering or disempowering for its many members, however according to Hodgman in his article on Twitter will 'reshape the future of storytelling'.


Allen, J. (2003). Lost geographies of power. Malden, MA.: Blackwell.

Hodgman, J. (n.d.). How Twitter Is Reshaping The Future Of Storytelling | Co.Exist | ideas + impact. Co.Exist | ideas + impact. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from

Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 2: Power. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 3: Power. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Image Credits:

Peterson, A. (2010). antenna. Retrieved from:


  1. Hi Rebecca,

    In all sense what you have wrote about Twitter was interesting to read and though I am not a member of Twitter, it does sounds a little familiar to Facebook, with maybe just a few different structures of what the site is able to do and how you participate within the network. You discuss and blog about your first impressions of joining the site and mention that the site can be more powerful towards its users and what they might be doing in attempt to seek higher powerful status. What do you mean by this? Is it perhaps the same when Allen (2003, pp.2) discusses power as not just something that is simply extended over short and long distances but to his understanding is a relational effect of social interaction? Could it be that Twitter is simply designed as a virtual, social networking space that alternatively conducts a power source that celebrities, business companies and even experts can use to gain higher social control and power through viral space?

    Allen, J. (2003) Lost Geographies of Power. Malden, MA: Blackwell

  2. Hi Rebecca!
    I was interested to read this blog because I have never involved myself in Twitter nor do I have any friends who are on Twitter (as far as I am aware). From never even investigating this social media I was already under the same impression of it as you describe. Power seems to be most certainly concentrated on the already popular and 'powerful' people and I have this image of everyone else being swept under in a sea of pointless 'tweets' that nobody reads! As Theresa explained in the lecture, and Allen (2003) suggests, power and authority exist only in relation to social interactions and acknowledgement. By continuing to give the already popular and powerful people more 'followers', and beyond that, to actually CARE about what they are 'tweeting' we are allocating more and more social power and influence to them. I would be interested to see how much more you can discover about Twitter and whether or not your opinion changes.

    Lunar (Vivian Davey)

    Allen, J. (2003). Lost Geographies of Power. UK: Blackwell.

    T.Petray, lecture, August 5th, 2013.

  3. Good Afternoon Rebecca,
    I was a member of Twitter for a short period of time, and I too found it quite overwhelming. I also agree with Allen (2003) that Power is a relational effect of social interactions, and Twitter immediately puts you in the position to feel as though celebrities and political figure heads are the chain of command. From my experience with Twitter I found the layout of the site to be so confusing I spent most of my time observing what others were doing instead of actually participating in the social network, much like the flaneur described in Prouty’s 'A turtle on a leash'. I quickly decided that Twitter was for the ‘elite’ as you so nicely put it. I’m very interested to see what you discover in terms of the power relationships of Twitter in week 8. Do the ‘average’ people of society have power? Or is Twitter another media opportunity for celebrities to exhibit their wealth and for politicians to gain support?
    I. Allen, J. (2003). Lost geographies of power. Malden, MA.: Blackwell.
    II. Prouty, R. (2009). 'A turtle on a leash'. Blog Site. Retrieved August 16, 2013 from