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[ecrea] Call for Abstracts -- Special Issue on Apps and Infrastructures
Wed Feb 07 16:30:31 GMT 2018
We invite submissions for a special issue of Computational Culture on
"Apps and Infrastructures", edited by Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond,
David Nieborg, and Fernando van der Vlist. Please find the call for
750 word abstracts are due by April 1, 2018. More information is
available at http://computationalculture.net/cfps-events/
<http://computationalculture.net/cfps-events/>. Queries to the editors
can be addressed at (apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com)
<mailto:(apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com)>.
Carolin Gerlitz (University of Siegen)
Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam)
David Nieborg (University of Toronto)
Fernando van der Vlist (University of Siegen and University of Amsterdam)
# CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
# APPS AND INFRASTRUCTURES
# A special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
# Edited by Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond, David Nieborg, Fernando van
Apps have become an important new cultural, technical, and economic
software form. Most of today’s apps are designed to run on smartphones
and other mobile devices and provide functions previously possible with
other software forms (Morris and Elkins, 2015). However, they represent
new ways in which software artefacts are developed, tested, packaged,
promoted, distributed, monitored, monetised, downloaded, integrated,
updated, stored, accessed, archived, interpreted, and used. To
foreground the relational and material dimensions of apps, research
should not only account for them as discrete media objects, but needs to
approach apps as part of their multiple infrastructures and environments
including app stores, development platforms, advertising technologies,
analytics tools, and cloud services, among others.
App stores set the conditions for users and developers to distribute,
browse, promote, monetise, rate, and download apps developed for Apple’s
iOS, Google’s Android, or other mobile operating systems. Developers
draw on a variety of both official and third-party developer tools,
including developer pages and reference documentation, application
programming interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs),
integrated development environments (IDEs), and dedicated programming
languages. Such resources are commonly employed in order to build, test,
and monitor apps whilst appropriating the features and constraints of
particular platforms and devices, thereby participating in the
re-interpretation and re-evaluation of platform features and data.
Furthermore, apps may also utilise a device’s built-in sensors for
continuous data collection of movements, practices, and environments
whilst being wirelessly connected to the cloud or other infrastructures,
without the user necessarily knowing exactly when, how, or where
Approaching apps from an infrastructural perspective allows attending to
the various socio-technical actors, layers, and inscriptions that inform
app development, distribution, and usage in situated, distributed, and
often dissimilar ways. Within such stacked intermediary infrastructures,
platform logics of negotiation among heterogeneous stakeholders are
multiplied and nested. This raises questions about the material and
technological boundaries of apps and the subsequent need for
methodologies to study apps’ socio-technical assemblages on multiple
scales, attending to inbound and outbound data flows, governance and
power, valuation, their political economy, and material semiotics.
Previous research on apps -- initially emerging at the intersection of
mobile studies and media studies -- considered mobile apps as a form of
mobile or location-based media transforming and generating new forms of
communication and sociality, places, and publics through the affordances
and practices associated with mobile artefacts (Goggin and Hjorth,
2014). While these studies raised general questions about the boundaries
of apps, attention was primarily directed to apps as compartmentalised
software applications and their relations with affect, bodies, and
locales (Farman 2012; Matviyenko et al., 2015; Morris and Elkins, 2015).
A second strand of app research has moved beyond such a single app focus
and directed primary attention to the materialities and infrastructures
of apps by engaging with their data cultures, material connections,
political economic underpinnings, and ecologies (Albury et al., 2017;
Farman, 2015; Goldsmith in Goggin and Hjorth, 2014; Horst, 2013;
Nieborg, 2017; Wilken, 2015).
This special issue of Computational Culture welcomes proposals and
projects from scholars and practitioners from across different
disciplines interested in the advancement of app studies at the
intersection of apps and infrastructures. Studies of mobile apps,
platform native apps, and web browser apps or extensions are
particularly encouraged. We specifically seek articles that bring
together conceptual work with a technically and empirically grounded
perspective, addressing the methodological challenges associated with
the critical study of apps and their intricate relations to other
software, platforms, and infrastructures. Contributors are encouraged to
move beyond studies of single apps and their users in favor of
approaches that explore apps as material artefacts alongside the
infrastructures, political economy, and environments in which they are
embedded and situationally enacted. We thus encourage interdisciplinary
contributions that traverse boundaries between the fields of software
studies, platform studies, cultural and media studies, science and
technology studies, as well as political economy and data critique.
## TOPICS AND PROJECTS MIGHT INCLUDE
* The relations between apps and their wider material and
infrastructural environments, including app stores, development
platforms and toolkits, analytics tools, advertising technologies, and
* The methodological and empirical challenges associated with the
critical study of apps, including concerns about accessibility to mobile
app backends and the limits of data retrieval through APIs or scraping
methods as used in web research.
* Studies of apps as articulations of technicity (e.g., how they are
designed, built, maintained, and updated) and the data cultures they
produce (e.g., what data do they collect or require).
* Detailed empirical and critical studies exploring apps’ data
cultures, usage tracking, technical dependencies and app permissions,
sensor technologies, and wireless access points.
* Inventive methods to conceptualise how apps are located or
situated, given they are utilising a mobile device’s built-in sensors as
well as accessing other resources from remote cloud infrastructures.
* Studies of the political economy of apps (e.g., how apps are valued
and monetized), the role of industry partnerships and third parties
(e.g., how apps are re-interpreted or extended), and the politics of
operability (e.g., how apps negotiate among stakeholders or interests).
* Explorations of the techno-economic relations between the web and
app ecosystems, including the dependencies of apps on web platforms and
cloud services, as well as the regulations and limits of app development
by device manufacturers and mobile operating systems like Android and iOS.
* Explorations of the ways and mechanisms through which multiple apps
are interconnected, forming collections, ecologies, and chains of apps
in specific practices (e.g., task and content automation).
* Media archaeologies exploring historical constellations of apps and
their wider material and infrastructural environments and other
historical approaches to app research.
* Explorations of app stores as the primary environment or
infrastructure for mobile apps, including contributions focusing on
non-Western apps and app stores, apps’ update cultures, and their
* The ways in which different material and infrastructural
environments, such as app stores, cater to distinct mobile operating
systems, devices, and geographic regions.
* Critical artistic interventions and research software tools that
repurpose the affordances of apps, app stores and other native
environments, and explore their data cultures.
750 word abstracts should be emailed to (apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com)
<mailto:(apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com)> by April 1, 2018.
Any queries can be addressed to the editors at
(apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com) <mailto:(apps.infrastructures /at/ gmail.com)>.
Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board
and the special issue editors.
Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by May 1, 2018 and
invited to submit full manuscripts by September 15, 2018.
These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer review according to
Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in March 2019.
Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of
interdisciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational
objects, practices, processes and structures.
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