A Twitter account giving the references in Following Searle on Twitter

3 min readNov 6, 2016

Early in 2017, probably February, The University of Chicago Press will publish my book Following Searle on Twitter: How words create digital institutions. In the book I argue that John Searle’s theory of Status Function Declarations is the best way of understanding Twitter’s institutional structure and function; how we make our part of the institution and collectively make the whole system. Also, that Twitter is just an examplar, by no means exceptional, since we are using the speech acts of our digital language to construct new types of institution in much of our daily interaction with devices and web services: Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Uber etc are like Twitter in being made by their users’ speech acts. Digital language offers us new means and new tools, but this use of language, whether spoken, written, printed or digital, to make our institutions is a very deep and pervasive point about language and culture. The book also draws on the work of Michael Tomasello whose research in evolutionary anthropology, primate behaviour and developmental psychology is persuasive of the notion that this making of culture and institutions, relies on distinctively human co-operation and so called ‘collective intentionality’.

Naturally the book uses many examples from Twitter (and other digital systems) it regularly cites and discusses web pages, tweets, videos, blogs and other digital objects. These along with the published works cited and the basic chapter and section structure of the book are now assembled in a web account which simply lists the references in order. I decided to produce this version of the notes because it struck me that it would be useful to anyone reading the printed book (or indeed the Kindle version) if they could separately track the notes, which Chicago prints as endnotes, without losing their place in the printed work: this should be particularly useful when looking at specific tweets, but also when tracking information from Twitter’s blogs and help pages. I look forward to finding out whether this device is useful to readers. But, now that I have produced the account, it occurs to me that it can also serve as an advertisement for the book. Notes listed as web links and chapter, section headings are obviously no substitute for the full work, but they are tasters and are often a good way of gathering some insight into what the author is ‘on about’. I am curious to hear whether tweeting all the references for a book has ever before been attempted. Fortunately, my book is not too heavily referenced. Even with the chapter and section headings, the complete account only runs to 191 tweets. I shall be quite careful not to add too many more tweets, so that the user who comes to it, will be able to jump straight into the book’s links.

Some early links in the book

So Following Searle on Twitter now has its own account on Twitter, naturally FollowingSearle@twitter. Please use it to track and investigate the references and links in my book.


Publisher and then web publisher