Pace of Life in Cities and the Emergence of Town Tweeters

Alexander Jones Gross, Dhiraj Murthy, Lav R. Varshney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-standing results in urban studies have shown correlation of population and population density to a city’s pace of life, empirically tested by examining whether individuals in bigger cities walk faster, spend less time buying stamps, or make greater numbers of telephone calls. Contemporary social media presents a new opportunity to test these hypotheses. This study examines whether users of the social media platform Twitter in larger and denser American cities tweet at a faster rate than their counterparts in smaller and sparser ones. Contrary to how telephony usage and productivity scale superlinearly with city population, the total volume of tweets in cities scales sublinearly. This is similar to the economies of scale in city infrastructures like gas stations. When looking at individuals, however, greater population density is associated with faster tweeting. The discrepancy between the ecological correlation and individual behavior is resolved by noting that larger cities have sublinear growth in the number of active Twitter users. This suggests that there is a more concentrated core of more active users that may serve an information broadcast function for larger cities, an emerging group of “town tweeters” as it were.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Twitter
  • and technology
  • communication
  • culture
  • human dynamics
  • social media
  • urban studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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