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Twitter rhetoric ? Argumentation in a Twitter debate : a case study

Abstract : On the 20th June 2008, “#pdfdebate”, the first presidential campaign debate to be held on Twitter, was launched. For five days, a representative of each of the two major candidates to the US presidential election used their Twitter account to engage in a debate on technology and government, moderated by a famous political blogger. This initiative of Personal Democracy Media, a private foundation dedicated to the study of new technologies in politics, has had no real posterity to this day and was generally considered as a failure. Commentators, both in the press and on Twitter, mostly blamed this failure on the fact that Twitter and its interface are not really suitable for an extended conversation such as a debate. The moderator herself says after a few tweets that “multithread format is making [her] head hurt”. However, it was deliberately conceived as a “freewheeling” experiment, meant to try and see what debating on Twitter would be like. This tentative political debate may then prove to be a good starting point to see what a political debate on Twitter can be like. With discourse analysis and computer-mediated discourse analysis (such as initiated by American linguist Susan Herring) as a frame, it also enables to take a closer look at rhetoric (in its original meaning of “art of public speaking”) on Twitter. Looking at how language is used by the debaters and technics of argumentation used within the notoriously limiting format of the tweet (140 characters), the question is ultimately whether there is such a thing as “Twitter rhetoric”. Since this debate is now seven years old and Twitter has changed quite a bit, the study will also include more recent features added over the years.
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Contributor : Célia Schneebeli <>
Submitted on : Friday, November 29, 2019 - 4:19:30 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, May 23, 2021 - 1:05:08 PM


Argumentation in a Twitter Deb...
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  • HAL Id : halshs-01406843, version 1



Célia Schneebeli. Twitter rhetoric ? Argumentation in a Twitter debate : a case study. 6th International Language in the Media Conference, University of Hamburg, Sep 2015, Hamburg, Germany. ⟨halshs-01406843⟩



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