Methods Maps: Visualising Automation

Team Members

Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond, Fernando van der Vlist, Esther Weltevrede, Mace Ojala, Laetitia Della Bianca, Karmijn van de Oudeweetering, Cindy Krassen, Daniela van Geenen, Lisa-Maria van Klaveren, Angeles Briones, Iulia Coanda, Liping Liu, Emilija Jokubauskaite, Ece Elbeyi, Gabriela Sued, Enedina, Eloy Caloca Lafont


Initial project pitch (abstract)

The main goal of this project is to think inventively and critically about methodological agencies and alignments, and to visualise (or otherwise explicate) these alignments through mapping methods – i.e. in the form of general-purpose method maps.

The objectives of this project are:
  • to develop a protocol and a prototype tool that allows researchers to account for methodological decisions inscribed into method;
  • to operationalise ‘methodological alignment’ in the context of automation (i.e., bots and apps);
  • to reflect conceptually on ‘methodological alignment’, or the interfacing of methods we “can’t exactly call our own, but which resonate sufficiently with our interests and familiar approaches to offer a productive site of empirical engagement with wider research contexts, practices, and apparatuses” (Marres & Gerlitz, 2016: 7–8).

Initial research questions are:
  • How to devise, operationalise, or repurpose ‘methodological alignment’?
  • How to assess, evaluate, or qualify these alignments in different contexts?
  • How to visualise implicit and explicit, human and nonhuman methodological decisions?
  • How to visually account for methodologies?

This project is an in-between project. On the one hand, it provides an introduction to the methods and challenges of studying automation in the cases of bots and apps; on the other hand, it involves methodological reflections on the alignment of methods in these contexts. The project starts collectively around the main theme of automation, and then develops two sub-projects centred on the cases of (i) bots and automation practices (especially on Twitter) and (ii) mobile apps (especially on Google Play) supporting automation practices related to online (social media) platforms. To what extent can existing methods for the detection and study of automation in these particular contexts be appropriated, repurposed, and extended further? And how to understand the methodological agencies (on the side of the researcher, the object or phenomenon under study, the methods and devices used, and the contexts of application)?

Methods Maps


Topic revision: r3 - 18 Jul 2017, EloyCalocaLafont
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