Kairos 19.3


Tweets with Mediating properties are those where the author overtly references images, videos, or other external media through the use of a hyperlink. My understanding of mediating builds on Daniel Cavicchi's (1998) observation that for Springsteen fans music is not a singular text that exists in isolation. Rather, it is "a dynamic event of communication unfolding through various media and over time" (Cavicchi, 1998, p. 89). Cavicchi hinted at what would later be described as transmedia storytelling, a form of media convergence where parts that make up the larger story are composed in the medium best able to present it (Jenkins, 2006a, pp. 95–134). Media used by Springsteen fans to transmediate the story of the concert include Twitpic and Instagram images, YouTube videos, FourSquare and Path check-in services, personal web sites, blogs, and newspaper articles.

black and white photograph of a fan taking a photo on his iPhone of Bruce Springsteen at the April 4, 2012 concert at the Izod Center.

One can trace the history of the event through media linked from the tweets.

ten-photo collage of photographs taken by fans before, during, and after the Springsteen concert at the Izod Center, April 4, 2012. All photos used with permission.

What's Happening?

On November 17, 2014, Springsteen's management corporation in collaboration with nugs.net announced that high quality downloads of recent and archival concerts would be available to download from a new section of Springsteen's official web site. In an interview with Springsteen fan magazine Backstreets, nugs.net CEO Brad Sterling revealed one key question he had when talking with Springsteen's team: "Why now? We spoke to you five years ago. What changed? It was Bruce looking at YouTube and seeing fan-generated content from his recent shows. . . . And he was like, 'We can do better than this. We own the masters!' What's great is, he wasn't saying, 'Fuck those guys. Take that stuff down. Screw YouTube.' It was, 'If this is happening, we should be doing it officially'" (Flannigan, 2014).

Twitpics, Instagrams, and check-ins indicate people have arrived at the show. Fans lucky enough to get in the pit post images of the arena in a state of anticipation while others show tailgating and other pre-concert activities. Once the concert starts, the check-ins stop and the Twitpics and Instagrams slow, though images of the concert show phones held up, photos being taken, and videos being recorded in open defiance of the "NO PHOTO/RECORDING/LASER" policy emblazoned on the TicketMaster ticket. Once the concert ends, the photos emerge again as fans reflect on their experiences. Then, links to blog posts with set lists. And then newspaper and fan reviews start to emerge. Last, links to fan videos pile up (indeed, the person who tweeted most in the corpus mainly posted links to videos). Fans retweet tweets that link to reviews, blog posts, and videos for the next several days.

Example Corpus Tweet

Tailgating for Springsteen #theboss http://t.co/OGOQPOWf

Example Corpus Tweet

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce!!!! (@ IZOD Center for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band w/ 165 others) [pic]: http://t.co/ZPFtWMbN

Example Corpus Tweet

Clarence tribute. #springsteen http://t.co/VAVWtFX2

Example Corpus Tweet

"My City in Ruins" w Bruce and a 15 piece band with five horns and fiddle! #Springsteen http://t.co/2KiJnL9a

Example Corpus Tweet

Bruce Springsteen, Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ 04.04.2012 Setlist http://t.co/BRSuhdkF

Coding a Tweet

Example Corpus Tweet

A memorable Bruce Springsteen show at the Izod Center on Wednesday night http://t.co/c7a986Kq

  • Open Coding

    The first stage in a grounded theory analysis is open coding. During open coding, researchers create an extensive list of characteristics about each unit of analysis. For my study, each tweet was a unit of analysis. The goal of open coding is for researchers to get to know the data more fully.

    During open coding for the above tweet, the following open codes were applied:

    a tweet containing an announcement about Springsteen-related news

    a tweet containing a URL to a web site

    a tweet containing a link to a review of a concert

    a tweet about something Springsteen-related in the news

    a tweet that is a concert review

    a tweet posted after the concert or about post-concert events

  • Axial Coding

    After open coding, I decided to focus on tweets posted before, during, and after the April 4, 2012 concert at the Izod Center. Because this tweet was posted after the concert, it was included in the study.

    The next stage is axial coding. During axial coding, a researcher is looking to better understand phenomena within the unit of analysis. When completing this stage, I asked myself, "What is this tweet doing?" I asked this question because the answer is active, often in the form of a gerund, which Kathy Charmaz (2006) recommended using when axially coding data. More than one code can be applied to each tweet, so I applied a primary code and one or more secondary codes where appropriate.

    Primary Code: Reporting: A tweet that informs others of events or news relating to the concert itself. Many of these are tweeted from news organizations, blogs, or individuals linking to them.

    Secondary Codes: Mediating

  • Why Mediating as a Secondary Code?

    I did not assign Mediating as a primary code to any of the 697 tweets in the corpus, though some, as here, come close. The question I asked when assigning codes to tweets with links was, "If the author's intent is to share information, is the use of a link to additional media the primary objective or a means to be able to share the information?" For all cases, I determined the link was a means to share information, but the primary intent was Reporting, as here, or Narrating, Conversing, or another axial code.

    However, I do not wish to diminish the importance of Mediating in the corpus. Authors who share links to other sites, whether they be reviews, images, or videos, are using Twitter as a fulcrum for texts surrounding the concert event. In doing so, they co-create the event for and with other fans who are writing about it.