Maria Audi Kiskowski-Byrne: ‘The Deleted Tweet’

Abstract: What do Twitter networks look like in our mind’s conceptual space? There are detailed computer graphic renderings of Twitter networks, but what does the Twitter network feel like for individual users within Twitter, and how does using Twitter shape our concepts of the physical structures of networks?

Twitter networks are often visualized as beautiful and complex network graphs where each node of the network is an entire Twitter account. At a higher resolution, each unique tweet may itself be a node in a larger network of all the tweets that exist in Twitter. The set of tweets of a Twitter user forms a subnetwork that would have a shape in the mind of that Twitter user. This Twitter subnetwork then interacts with the subnetworks of other Twitter users – user subnetworks interact through retweets, user-tagged tweets and tweet replies. As Twitter users interact, they create threads in Twitter that weave subnetworks together in complex ways.

I fret about the effect of a deleted tweet, and measure the potential emotional impact on Twitter users from the point of view of the effect of the deletion on the pattern of the inter-connecting tweets. In the context of this anxiety, one day I create a tweet with the intention of deleting it. I take a photo of the tweet before and after its deletion. I conclude that the deleted tweet is real, as a negative space within the inter-connected Twitter subnetworks.

BioMaria Audi Kiskowski-Byrne is a bio-mathematician at the University of South Alabama. Her research areas include studying how epidemics spread on social networks and how chemicals spread and interact in physical spaces such as tissues to create spatial patterns.