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App Support Ecologies

An Empirical Investigation of App–Platform Relations

C. Gerlitz, A. Helmond, F. N. van der Vlist, E. J. T. Weltevrede (alphabetical)

This project sets out to advance the study of mobile apps at the intersection with platform studies and explores what both fields of study may learn from each other. A novel empirical methodology is developed to explore the intricate relations between mobile apps and social media platforms. Our findings suggest to think of apps as relational software entities, simultaneously situated and distributed. Apps exist as part of wider ecologies made up of programmable infrastructures and controlled data flows. Furthermore, this empirical investigation interfaces apps with platform studies. First, it contributes to the study of mobile apps by providing a novel empirical methodology for mapping app–platform relations and thereby providing an account of apps as software entities that are both situated (existing ‘in context’) and distributed (both shaped by and shaping relations to platforms and diverse stakeholders). Second, it also contributes to the study of platforms by offering insights into stakeholder politics and practices, which we argue are crucial to understanding the defining features of platforms: their programmability, distinct affordances, multiplicitous stakeholders, and strategies for negotiating openness/closure.

mobile apps; digital methods; Google Play; platforms; social media



Kind Conference Proceeding; Conference Poster
Author C. Gerlitz; A. Helmond; F. N. van der Vlist; E. J. T. Weltevrede
Designer F. N. van der Vlist
Publication Date 2016, December 8
Conference Infrastructures of Publics – Publics of Infrastructures, 1st 2016 Annual Conference of the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’, Siegen, Germany, December 8–10.
Identifier http://bit.ly/app-support-ecologies
Download app-support-ecologies.pdf