A tale of two citizens : how South Africa’s most visible scientists use Twitter to communicate with the public

Mudde, Storm Eleni (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In an age that is often described as being both the best and worst of times for communication, it is becoming increasingly important for science to be as decentralised as possible. One of the ways to achieve this is for scientists to make an effort to communicate and engage with other scientists as well as members of the general public. This can be facilitated via a variety of modern information communication technologies and applications such as social media. However, since there is no exact or specific formula for how to communicate on social media platforms like Twitter, some scientists are hesitant to get involved. For this reason, scientists can and should benefit from other scientists who have experience on social media, especially those who have been criticised in a public way. Therefore, this study examines how two highly visible and controversial South African scientists – Lee Berger and Tim Noakes − use Twitter to communicate with their diverse publics, despite pressure from other scientists and social media users. One hundred tweets published by Berger and one hundred tweets published by Noakes before and during periods of controversy has been collected and analysed in order to make sense of the online communication strategies of these prominent scientists.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In ‘n era wat gereeld beskryf word as die beste en slegste van tye word dit toenemend belangrik vir desentralisasie van die wetenskappe. Een moontlikheid vir die bevordering hiervan is vir wetenskaplikes om ‘n poging aan te wend vir kommunikasie met ander individue binne die wetenskapsveld en met die algemene publiek. Dit kan gefasiliteer word deur ‘n verskeidenheid inligtingskommunikasietegnologieë en toepassings soos sosiale media. Siende dat daar egter geen spesifieke of vasgestelde formule vir komunikasie op sosiale media platforms soos Twitter is nie, huiwer sommige wetenskaplikes om betrokke te raak. Wetenskaplikes kan en moet dus leer by ander individue in die wetenskap met ervaring op sosiale media, veral diegene wat al blootgestel was aan openbare kritiek. Daarom ondersoek hierdie studie hoe twee sigbare en kontroversiële Suid-Afrikaanse wetenskaplikes – Lee Berger en Tim Noakes – van Twitter gebruik maak om met hulle diverse publiek te kommunikeer ten spyte van druk vanaf ander wetenskaplikes en die publiek. Een honderd twiets van Berger en een honderd van Noakes voor en gedurende tye van omstredenheid is versamel en ontleed om sin te maak van die kommunikasiestrategieë van hierdie prominente wetenskaplikes.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105733
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