Walking Through, Going Along and Scrolling Back

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Spatial metaphors have long been part of the way we make sense of media. From early conceptualizations of the internet, we have come to understand digital media as spaces that support, deny or are subject to different mobilities. With the availability of GPS data, somatic bodily movement has enjoyed significant attention in media geography, but recently innovations in digital ethnographic methods have paid attention to other, more ephemeral ways of moving and being with social media. In this article, we consider three case studies in qualitative, “small data” social media research methods: the walkthrough, the go-along and the scroll back methods. Each is centred on observing navigational flows through app infrastructures, fingers hovering across device surfaces and scrolling-and-remembering practices in social media archives. We advocate an ethnography of ephemeral media mobilities and suggest that small data approaches should analytically integrate four dimensions of mediated mobility: bodies and affect, media objects and environments, memory and narrative, and the overall research encounter.

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