The walkthrough method : an approach to the study of apps

Light, BA ORCID:, Burgess, JE and Duguay, S 2018, 'The walkthrough method : an approach to the study of apps' , New Media and Society, 20 (3) , pp. 881-900.

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Software applications (apps) are now prevalent in the digital media environment. They are the site of significant sociocultural and economic transformations across many domains, from health and relationships to entertainment and everyday finance. As relatively closed technical systems, apps pose new methodological challenges for sociocultural digital media research. This paper describes a method, grounded in a combination of science and technology studies with cultural studies, through which researchers can perform a critical analysis of a given app. The method involves establishing an app’s environment of expected use by identifying and describing its vision, operating model, and modes of governance. It then deploys a walkthrough technique to systematically and forensically step through the various stages of app registration and entry, everyday use, and discontinuation of use. The walkthrough method establishes a foundational corpus of data upon which can be built a more detailed analysis of an app’s intended purpose, embedded cultural meanings, and implied ideal users and uses. The walkthrough also serves as a foundation for further user-centred research that can identify how users resist these arrangements and appropriate app technology for their own purposes.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: New Media and Society
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1461-4448
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Professor Ben Light
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 08:07
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 21:18

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