Capturing community in mobility: Mobile methods for community informatics

Jiawei Chen, Benjamin V. Hanrahan, Chien Wen (Tina) Yuan, John M. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The field of community informatics focuses on how information and communication technology can contribute to the development and sustainability of local communities. The ubiquity of mobile technologies, coupled with their affordances of connecting people and accessing information anytime, anywhere, brings new opportunities for community informatics research. These same affordances also entrain new methodological challenges in capturing and understanding mobile technology use, as mobile-supported interactions can be difficult to study systematically. Such interactions are often situated in complex social and physical settings, such as the local community context. In response to these challenges, we describe the method for scripting events that participants enact within their community and through which we probe how mobile technology impacts community building and vice versa. With the scripted method, we emphasize the need to integrate multiple streams of data and analyses to triangulate and obtain a holistic picture of community interactions. This scripted method is designed to afford ecological validity in employing socially and behaviorally realistic activities, while maintaining some research control, in providing a standard scaffold for participants to enact target behaviors. We discuss how our method could be leveraged in other mobile media communication studies involved in complex social and physical contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-178
Number of pages16
JournalMobile Media and Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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