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Research methods workshop: Methods for studying platforms, apps and online content

  • 23.09.2024
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia


Please register as soon as possible since the capacity of the workshop is limited.

Fee: 25 EUR - covering 2 coffee breaks and a lunch (sandwiches)

Location: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana 

Address: Kardeljeva ploščad 5, 1000 Ljubljana; room FDV 12

(Ground floor of the faculty building straight on from the entrance; check the map:

10.45-11.00 Arriving and morning coffee 

11.00-13.00 „Appscapes method“ – Dr. Signe Sophus Lai and Dr. Sofie Flensburg (University of Copenhagen)

The “appscape” method draws on the metaphor of a landscape. Building on research originating in the emergent field of app studies (see Dieter et al., 2019; Gerlitz et al., 2019), the method is developed for studies aimed at mapping the landscape of app infrastructures as they relate to the ubiquitous presence of mobile technologies in everyday life and the increasing datafication of social experiences. In this session, participants will be introduced to the various steps of working with appscapes – from data collection and analysis to visualisations as both analytical tools and illustrations of research findings. Participants are welcome to bring a set of apps – be it their own apps on their personal devices, a specific genre of apps (health apps, gaming apps, self-tracking apps, etc.), or apps relating to a particular project – and we will also prepare a fixed dataset for participants to work with if necessary. Finally, we will discuss the efficacy of appscape visualisations as prompts for interview conversations on data and (mobile) tracking as well as the broader implications of leveraging the appscape method in impact work outside academia. For examples of this method, see Lai & Flensburg, 2020a: & Lai & Flensburg, 2020b: 

13.00-13.45 Light lunch (provided)

13.45-15.45 „The walkthrough method for visual platforms“ – Dr. Daniela Jaramillo Dent  (University of Zurich)

In this session, participants will be introduced to the walkthrough method as an effective approach to enrich the analysis of visual, memetic, and interactive social media platforms, communities, and content. The walkthrough method was proposed by Light et al. (2018) as “a way of engaging directly with an app’s interface to examine its technological mechanisms and embedded cultural references, to understand how it guides users and shapes their experiences”. When applied to visual, memetic, and interactive platforms, it enables researchers to consider the contexts where specific discourses develop, and it adds dimensions to understand the specific languages, logics and grammars of social media platforms and communities, known as platform vernaculars (Gibbs et al., 2015). The walkthrough method will be combined with the presentation of a memetic and interactive approach to the analysis of social media content (Jaramillo-Dent, 2023; Vizcaíno-Verdú & Jaramillo-Dent, in press). With examples from specific digital communities and hands-on activities, participants will have the opportunity to expand their qualitative methodological toolkit when approaching content on visual social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.  

15.45-16.00 coffee break (provided)

16.00-18.00 „Developing quanti-quali approaches to study social media visual content” – Dr. Stefania Vicari  (University of Sheffield)

Research into contemporary social media cultures, or working with data from social media, is increasingly challenged with the task of developing methodological frameworks to analyse visual forms of communication and representation. In fact, work interested in a wide range of issues, for instance from identity performance to meaning making, is in need to develop methodologies able to incorporate automated and interpretive approaches to study visual (and multimodal) content. In this session, we will discuss ways to develop this type of research by combining elements of cultural analytics, visual network analysis and interpretive work. The session will incorporate a live demonstration of  how to 1) use Gephi network analysis and visualisation software to map image networks and 2) apply interpretive techniques to make sense of these networks. For instance, we will discuss the use of these techniques to identify visual genres and interpret their meaning in relation to specific lines of enquiry. In the final part of the session, those attending the training will be able to access guidance material, try Gephi with a given dataset of images, share questions and discuss their work.

Lecturer Bios

Signe Sophus Lai is a Tenure Track Assistant Professor at the Centre for Tracking and Society, University of Copenhagen. Her research is placed at the intersection between infrastructure studies, political economy of communication, and critical data studies, and is particularly focused on advancing new methods for empirical research on digital communication systems as well as the societal implications of big data, digital infrastructure ownership, and emergent business models. She has previously published on communication systems and infrastructures in the International Journal of Communication and Media, Culture & Society, on datafication and tracking in New Media & Society and Mobile Media & Society, and on digital methods and digital inequalities in Big Data & Society and Feminist Media Studies.

Sofie Flensburg is a Tenure Track Assistant Professor at the Centre for Tracking and Society, University of Copenhagen where she researches and teaches on political economy of digital infrastructures. Cutting across infrastructure studies, digital and data economy, and comparative studies of communication systems, her research broadly studies the ongoing evolution and institutionalisation of the internet. It contributes to a critical research agenda that enquires into how digital technologies and datafication alter basic societal structures and how they are – and can be – controlled. Sofie Flensburg has published in journals such as New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, Media, Culture & Society, Big data & Society, and Mobile Media and Communication.

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent is Senior Research and Teaching Associate at the Media Change and Innovation Division, Department of Media and Communication Research at the University of Zurich. She is an internet scholar with research and teaching expertise in the fields of digital media, migration, identity, culture and social justice. Her research has explored algorithmic (in)visibility, minority representation and inequality in digital platforms. She has contributed and held leadership roles in research projects at the local, national, and European levels. Daniela has international teaching experience in fields related to digital inequality, research methods and media literacy and has led teaching innovation projects and training workshops for innovative teaching in Higher Education. She has received awards at the local and European levels for her research on minority creators and content creation practices on Instagram and TikTok. She is a Key Regional Leader of the TikTok Cultures Research Network and she is part of FemLab (Feminist Approaches to Labor Collectives).

Stefania Vicari is Senior Lecturer in Digital Sociology at the University of Sheffield (UK). Her research focuses on participatory cultures, advocacy and methodological innovation, especially in the context of digital research. She studies the role that digital traces (e.g., social media content) and technologies (e.g., digital platforms and their systems) play in advancing or constraining social change. Stefania uses a range of digital methods techniques informed by network theory and textual analysis (frame analysis, critical discourse analysis) and is specifically interested in developing combinations of ‘quanti’ and ‘quali’ methodological steps in digital methods designs. Her work has appeared on Information, Communication & Society, New Media & Society, Current Sociology and Discourse Studies and her research has been funded by the British Academy (2012), the Wellcome Trust (2013; 2016), the ESRC (2018) and the Leverhulme Trust (2022). 



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