The main question for Larsson and Moe (2011) is if social media services are able to redistribute fame or if attention is focused on the same actors as in a traditional media environment. More formally, they ask `To what extent does Twitter merely serve as another arena for already established societal actors or rather facilitates a new distribution among public speakers, allowing new voices or perspectives to be heard?' To approach this question, they examine who people interact with on Twitter. There are many ways this interaction can take place, such as mentioning other users (e.g. @matnel wrote an interesting book on computational social science) or circulating content someone else has produced by retweeting it. Data were collected from Twitter through selected election-related hashtags for the duration of one month, a total of almost 100,000 tweets.
To answer this research question, Larsson and Moe (2011) use various methods: counting particular kinds of tweets, examining temporal dimensions and examining the networks. They use network analysis to identify participants who have a high degree in mentioning the network and retweeting the network. In their perspective, the degree highlights people who are seen as central in the discussion and indicates whose voices are heard, interacted and redistributed in the social network. Following this step, they identify all people with a high retweet or mentioning count and discuss their backgrounds, examining if they are established societal actors or new public speakers.
They next use network visualisation to examine interactions between these users. The network visualisations show how these highly active users are surprisingly well engaged with each other. They conclude that `many of the highly active users can be said to at least potentially enjoy privileged positions in their respective professional capacities of journalists, politicians, etc.', thus answering the original research question.