Blog entry

DATAFIED inspires research in communication science

Two subprojects of the DATAFIED team presented insights at the international three-country conference DACH21, which took place from April 7th to April 9th 2021 on the topic „#Kommunikation #(R)Evolution. Zum Wandel der Kommunikation in der digitalen Gesellschaft“ (#Communication #(R)Evolution. On the Transformation of communication in digital society) held at the University of Zurich. In the methods panel, Jasmin Troeger, Annekatrin Bock and Felicitas Macgilchrist (SP3) presented the walkthrough method with the paper „Der walkthrough – ein methodischer Zugang für kommunikationswissenschaftliche App (User) Studies“ (The walkthrough – a methodological approach for communication science app (user) studies). Following this, Irina Zakharova (SP2) and Annekatrin Bock spoke on the topic of “Researching (in)visible data”.

In the method paper, Troeger, Bock, and Macgilchrist used browser-based learning software to illustrate how the walkthrough approach can be used to capture individual aspects of software such as core functions, individual system components, and interaction scenarios, thus enabling the analysis of their interrelationships and the formulation of insights into the data model and software architecture. Finally, possible implications for questions in communication science were shown, which enable new perspectives on software and thus generate new insights regarding the formative power of these actors.

The methodological contribution can be seen here.

The contribution by Bock and Zakharova made a methodological proposal on how the use of Critical Data Studies can be designed in communication and media research. Using the walkthrough and data journeys methods used in DATAFIED as examples, the authors reflected on the agency that different school actors have in their data practices. The paper raised the question of to what extent and in what situations this agency contributes to the visibility or invisibility of data and data practices.

Despite the tight contribution and discussion time, the discussion in both papers showed that communication studies has opened up to interdisciplinary streams and approaches from STS and Critical Data Studies. The role of information systems and software in empirical communication and media research and how to conceptualize them methodologically and conceptually were discussed. The issues of agency of different actors in their use of software and data was another topic that came to the fore not only in the discussions of the two papers from DATAFIED, but was also addressed from different perspectives throughout the conference.