May 24, 2022

Full Text, Peer-Reviewed Article: "Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community"

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“Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community”

Anatoliy Gruzd, (Dalhousie University)
Barry Wellman, (University of Toronto)
Yuri Takhteyev, (University of Toronto)

American Behavioral Scientist
October 2011 55: 1294-1318,
First published on July 25, 2011


The notion of “community” has often been caught between concrete social relationships and imagined sets of people perceived to be similar. The rise of the Internet has refocused our attention on this ongoing tension. The Internet has enabled people who know each other to use social media, from e-mail to Facebook, to interact without meeting physically. Into this mix came Twitter, an asymmetric microblogging service: If you follow me, I do not have to follow you. This means that connections on Twitter depend less on in-person contact, as many users have more followers than they know. Yet there is a possibility that Twitter can form the basis of interlinked personal communities—and even of a sense of community. This analysis of one person’s Twitter network shows that it is the basis for a real community, even though Twitter was not designed to support the development of online communities. Studying Twitter is useful for understanding how people use new communication technologies to form new social connections and maintain existing ones.

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.