International Journal of Communication 
Publishes a Special Section on Digital Traces in Context

The International Journal of Communication
Publishes a Special Section on Digital Traces in Context

Digital traces

                                                                                                                     Photo: © Beate C. Koehler

Wherever we are, whatever we do, living in a media saturated social world we leave ‘footprints’ of our media use that constitute an archive of ‘digital traces.’ But how can we analyze adequately these digital traces? How can we contextualize them—theoretically and methodologically as well as empirically?

In this Special Section on Digital Traces in Context by international experts in digital media, datafication and digital methods, guest-edited by professors Andreas Hepp, Andreas Breiter and Thomas Friemel, explores the challenges involved when putting digital traces into context. These authors discuss, on the one hand, the necessity to rethink media and communications theory when it comes to ‘vanity metrics,’ ‘media analytics,’ and ‘infrastructure’ while on the other, they reflect on various approaches to putting digital traces into context—and the methodological differences implied by the variety of available platforms such as Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook, or the ecosystem of Apple’s App Store. Furthermore, this Special Section reflects on forms of agency when it comes to digital traces such as critical data practices, software development, and various forms of self-tracking. In a concluding commentary, economic implications of digital traces are discussed alluding to the possible emergence of a new turn of capitalism.

We invite you to read these 15 articles that published in the International Journal of Communication on January 29, 2018. Please Ctrl+Click on the essay titles below for direct linking to the papers of interest.


Digital Traces in Context: An Introduction
Andreas Hepp, Andreas Breiter, Thomas Friemel

Otherwise Engaged: Otherwise Engaged: Social Media from Vanity Metrics to Critical Analytics
Richard Rogers

100 Billion Data Rows per Second: 100 Billion Data Rows per Second: Media Analytics in the Early 21st Century
Lev Manovich

Google Maps as Cartographic Infrastructure: From Participatory Mapmaking to Database Maintenance
Jean-Christophe Plantin

Political Agency, Digital Traces and Bottom-Up Data Practices
Stefania Milan

Tweets Are Not Created Equal. A Platform Perspective on Social Media Metrics
Carolin Gerlitz, Bernhard Rieder

Reuniting a Divided Public? Tracing the TTIP Debate on Twitter and in Traditional Media
Gerret von Nordheim, Karin Boczek, Lars Koppeers, Elena Erdmann

From “Knowledge Brokers” to Opinion Makers: How Physical Presence Affected Scientists’ Twitter Use During the COP21 Climate Change Conference
Stefanie Walter, Fenja De Silva-Schmidt, Michael Brüggemann

Social Media Giveth, Social Media Taketh Away: Facebook, Friendships and APIs
Bernie Hogan

Unraveling the App Store: Toward an Interpretative Perspective on Tracing
Tilo Grenz, Heiko Kirschner

Self-Tracking Data as Digital Traces of Identity: A Theoretical Analysis of Contextual Factors of Self-Observation Practices
Bernadette Kneidinger-Müller

Personal Data Contexts, Data Sense and Self-Tracking Cycling
Deborah Lupton, Sarah Pink, Christine Heyes LaBond, Shanti Sumartojo

Digital Traces and Personal Analytics: iTime, Self-Tracking, and the Temporalities of Practice
Martin Hand, Michelle Gorea

Appropriating Digital Traces of Self-Quantification: Contextualizing Pragmatic and Enthusiast Self-Trackers
Ulrike Gerhard, Andreas Hepp

Tracing Capitalism’s Turn to Data: Or, Contextualizing Daily Life’s New Data “Context” — Commentary
Nick Couldry


Larry Gross

Arlene Luck
Managing Editor

Andreas Hepp, Andreas Breiter, and Thomas Friemel
Guest Editors