Commercial twitter: or how to get a lot from a little

On: October 11, 2009
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About Thomas Fonville
A Bachelor of Arts, specialized in New Media. Currently upgrading towards a Master of New Media. My interest in the field of new media lies in the subject of space, and how new media can shape these different spaces. My Bachelor thesis named; "Augmented space and Digital Art, or a remediation of virtual reality" concentrated on the subject of space in relation to Digital Art. Apart from new media I have a major interest in popular culture and modern art.


Almost every new media form undergoes different levels of different uses. Some new media is invented with a certain goal, take for instance a heavily used tool for communication as internet. This medium was invented in order to establish a connection between universities or army bases. Nowadays almost everybody is online and the internet is no longer strictly confined to two major knowledge institutions.

Once the internet became public, people were outraged with the fact that businesses were able to include themselves in this medium.(1) Once being a harbor of knowledge, now degraded to a dirty port with the highest bidders claiming the loudest space. Since Twitter is in a fase of exploration most of the users of twitter are not completly sure why they use twitter. And even more important, since Twitter is still a free service, and getting more popular by the day. The platform of Twitter offers a different use for various users. For instance Twitter could be used by teens as cheap alternative to texting. But on the other side of the use of Twitter could be the commercial use by large companies in order to market their products. Twitter is highly ideal to market towards the users of the internet age, since a Tweet can’t be longer than 160 characters.  Marketing and advertising mostly focus upon delivering the message as short and strong as possible. also the ability to share a link is ideal for advertising , since the user can be transported to a site with more information. (

In researching the medium of Twitter I would like to focus upon the commercialization of Twitter. Since there is a debate about the fact that Twitter still hasn’t agreed with major sponsor, or commercial company’s.  Also the fact that Twitter hasn’t been acquired yet by Google contributes to the state of Twitter. In my opinion Twitter is currently being used by commercial company’s without seeing any revenue. Therefore the discussion of the commercialization of Twitter is perhaps somewhat dated, since brands and brand names are established in an online representation. Furthermore users even contribute to their relation with brands, simply by engaging in an online conversation. Through retweeting, users can start to work voluntarily for a brand name. This notion of contributing to a brandname through participation is being examined by Yu Sisi in her post: “We are all in a show: Be a Mad Men on twitter.”

Of course what needs to be taken into account is the fact that readers each define their own reading.  Therefore one needs to look carefully as to who is using certain words or texts and where those texts and words are being discussed. Thus one could accept a tweet as being of a commercial function or merely as one of informative function. Again this matter is discussed in looking towards the commercialization of twitter, Lister et al define the term bricolage:

“Through consumption as an active pratice of bricolage, constructed through the images and consumer goods we ‘choose’, a process perhaps given new impetus by the interactive and reproductive power of digital software”2

Besides the notion of bricolage as explained above, when engaging in the medium of Twitter the notion of interpellation from theorist Louis Althusser comes to mind. In relation to the commercial effect Althusser is perfect to use here, since he wrote about the reception of advertisements.(3) Althusser offers asolution for the problem of the text as it appears to the reader. He proposes to let the text undergo a symptomatic reading. With this Althusser means to look for what is not being said in a text. One must perform a double reading in order to understand the contructed text. Once the reader has red the original text, one must try to produce the text through lapses, distortions, silences and absences.(4)

In this commercial effect of twitter lies a lot of research. If only to contribute to a better or more honest reading experience. Also in order to determine in which way Twitter could commercially evolve. For now Twitter remains the little kid that will shout anything the big boys tell him to shout.


2. Lister et al. “New Media: a critical introduction.” P. 249

3. Storey, John. “Cultural Theory and Poplar Culture.”P. 56-57

4. Storey, John. “Cultural Theory and Poplar Culture.”P. 56-57

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