Mobile cultures – ARTS2091
Lecture 2: The walkthrough method for analysing apps
Part 1 â€“ Considering an appâ€™s context
Dr Michele Zappavigna
Apps are semiotic technologies
â€¢ semiotic technology
â€¢ â€œa technology that is designed for meaning making and
has meaning-making potentials built â€¦[into it] through
various semiotic modes (e.g. layout, texture, colour,
sound, etc.) on its interfaceâ€ (Zhao et al, 2014: 72)
â€¢ configurations of technical affordances interacting with
the discursive functions of multimodal resources
Based on Zhao, Djonov & van Leeuwen (2014), Zhao & van Leeuwen (2014)
The walkthrough method
â€¢ Light, Burgess & Duguay (2016)
The walkthrough method
1. Identifying and describing the â€˜environment of
expected useâ€™ of the app:
â€¢ operating model
â€¢ modes of governance
2. Systematically â€˜walking throughâ€™ the app:
â€¢ app registration and entry
â€¢ everyday use
â€¢ discontinuation of use
â€¢ An app for connecting
â€˜mumsâ€™ who want to
make friends with other
â€œAn appâ€™s vision involves its purpose, target user base and
scenarios of use, which are often communicated through the
app providerâ€™s organisational materials… An appâ€™s vision tells
user what it is supposed to do and, by extension, implies how
it can be used and by whom.â€ (Light et al., 2016: 9)
â€¢ How is the app presented in the app store and on itâ€™s
â€¢ How does it position itself through discursive
representation (verbiage, image etc.)?
â€¢ Is there materials from other sources involved in this representation? e.g. company
blogs, marketing materials, press releases etc.
â€¢ Are logos, colour schemes, images etc. derived from these sources visible in the
â€¢ business strategy & revenue sources Ã underlying political and economic
â€¢ How is the apps revenue generated?
â€¢ direct payment?
â€¢ in-app purchases?
â€¢ selling personal data?
â€¢ â€œhow the app provider seeks to manage and regulate user
activity to sustain their operating model and fulfil their visionâ€
(Light, et al., 2016:10)
â€¢ What kinds of rules and guidelines does the app enforce?
â€¢ What kinds of boundaries are there on user activities?
â€¢ Which kinds of users are allowed to use the app?
â€¢ What kinds of restrictions are detailed in the appâ€™s Terms of Service
â€¢ What kind of restrictions are imposed by the appâ€™s platform?
â€¢ Pick an app that you havenâ€™t used before.
â€¢ Go through the registration process etc.
â€¢ See if you can figure out:
â€¢ operating model
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