Produsage and content polarity on Twitter

What is produsage?

The concept of “produsage”, a new term putting together “production” and “usage”, recently coined by Axel Bruns, entails “the assumption that there is a move away from the traditional value production chain of “producer – distributor – consumer” towards a triadic simultaneity of each category” (Horan[1], 2013, p.1).


Horan (2013) analyses the “produsage” within social media platforms through a semantic network analysis of Twitter communications.

The traditional production chain does not apply to what happens on Twitter where the content as such is mainly produced by consumers while the platform owners “facilitate modes for distribution”. This does not happen in mass media “where the content is produced by the platform owners and sold to the consumers” (p.1). Horan argues that the business model applies differently to social media platforms “where consumers perform labour for themselves” (p.3).

The study findings prove that produsage as such has a low value for most users, who are passive information consumers, and a significant high value for active users.

Content polarity and Losada Line

Over the past numbers of years researchers analysed the content polarity which is embedded in tweets. Citing Pang and Lee, Thelwall et al[2]. (2011) state that “the research field of sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, has developed many algorithms to identify whether an online text is subjective or objective, and whether any opinion expressed is positive or negative” (p.406).

Thelwall et al. looked at sentiment polarity (positive, negative or neutral) on Twitter and whether popular events could be linked to the sentiment strength increase in a given period of time. They found that popular events “are normally associated with increases in negative sentiment strengths and some evidence that peaks of interest in events have stronger positive sentiment than the time before the peak” (p.406). In other words, negative sentiment on Twitter could generate popular events.

Danowski[3] (2012) suggests comparing polarity values against the Losada Line, also known as the “critical positivity ratio”. Following a number of studies focused on the ratios of positive to negative in communications, Fredrickson and Losada[4] (2011) found evidence that 2.9 is the “flourishing” point on the line. Danowski explains that “to flourish means to live within the optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience” (p.2). The values below 2.9 show less effectiveness and are labelled as “languishing”, meaning “distress, impairment and limitations in activities” (p.2), while any value above 11.6 proved to lead to the weakening of the system.

Danowski concludes that Losada Line along with WORDij could be successfully combined to extract relevant information about the polarity of a given text corpus:

“For a system to be flourishing there must be at least 2.9 times more positive than negative communication. Below that ratio, the system is languishing” (p.1).


[1] Horan, T.J. (2013), ‘Soft’ versus ‘Hard’ News on Microblogging Networks: Semantic Analysis of Twitter Produsage, in Information, Communication & Society, Taylor & Francis, Vol. 16/1

[2] Thelwall, M. et al. (2011), “Sentiment in Twitter Events”, in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(2), pp. 406-418

[3] Danowski, J. A. (2012), Sentiment Network Analysis of Taleban and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Open-Source Content About Afganistan in Open-Source Intelligence and Web Mining conference [OSINT-WM 2012], Odense, Denmark

[4] Fredrickson, B.L. and Losada M.F. (2011), “Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing” in Am Psychol, American Psychological Association


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