Book-chapter on the Media Map-Method published

Media Pedagogy Research Workshop: Projects – Theories – Methods

In my field research on The mobile phone in urban Kenyan everyday-life, I have developed a qualitative media research method that was used to collect empirical data from the field. A fully developed article on how the MediaMap exactly works as well as its theoretical and methodological framing has now been published as a book chapter:

Waltinger, Michael (2017): Die MediaMap – Eine explorative Forschungsmethode zur Entwicklung einer kontextualisierten Mediennutzungsperspektive. [The Media Map – An explorative method for researching media usage in context.] In: Knaus, Thomas (ed.): Forschungswerkstatt Medienpädagogik. Projekt – Theorie – Methode [Media Pedagogy Research Workshop: Projects – Theories – Methods.] . München: kopaed, pp. 253 – 286.

There is also an accompaniying micro-website on the MediaMap, containing a short description of the method as well as images of the development of the method, the research-setup and some examples of MediaMaps as produced by participants in my field research in Nairobi (Kenya):

Talk on „Evaluating and Analyzing Qualitative Data“ @ Mobiento/Deloitte Digital

Download the charts

If your are interested in User and/or Market Research, and you happen to live in the wider Stockholm area, I can highly recommend you check out the MeetUp-group Stockholm User Research. Smart, inspiring people and burning questions of the User Researcher’s daily bread abound, the group meets regularly to discuss a broad variety of user research-related topics. MeetUps alternate between usually smaller morning/breakfast/coffee-discussion rounds in a café/restaurant and usually larger afterwork/evening-sessions; the latter normally with two speakers and hosted by one of Stockholms thriving tech/research companies or digital agencies.

The last MeetUp was on the 30th of May 2017 and generously hosted by Mobiento/Deloitte Digital. I happened to have been approached by one of the MeetUp-group’s organizers and asked to say some words about the evaluation and analysis of qualitative research. The talk I gave was organized into three parts:

  1. The soundness of qualitative data (as opposed to quantitative data)
  2. Approaching qualitative data analysis – with a focus on computer aided content analysis
  3. How to get started with CAQDA tomorrow

For those that were at the MeetUp – and anyone else that might be interested – I thought I’d make the charts of the talk available for download here. In case there are any follow-up questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

After the talk, I have been approached for some tips on good texts on qualitative and ethnographic research as well as qualitative content analysis – a couple of texts that I find helpful for further reading:

Qualitative Research

Gilbert, Nigel (2009): Researching Social Life. 3rd edition. Los Angles: Sage Publications.

This is an excellent handbook-style reading with many shorter articles on most aspects of qualitative research. Beside other things, the books also contains a section on different (computer assisted) data analysis and coding techniques. Here’s a Google books-link.

Ethnographic Research

Campbell Galman, Sally (2007): Shane, the Lone Ethnographer. A Beginner’s Guide to Ethnography. New York: AltaMira Press.

This is a fun and fast to read 100 page short comic-style introductory text to ethnography, touching onto most aspects of ethnographic research – from entering into a research setting until writing up a report. The book also contains some tips on data collection and analysis methods. Here’s a Google books-link.

Content Analysis & Coding Techniques

Cole, Patricia (1994): Finding a path through the research maze. The Qualitative Report, 2(1), 14–18.
This is an older but still very good and short article of only a handful pages on some helpful coding techniques. Available here for download.

Talk on „Interrogating M4D-tales: some sociostructural aspects of ICTs and social change in everyday-life“ at the Nordic Africa Days 2016 (Uppsala University)


Photograph of the conference-bag (© Michael Waltinger, 2016)

Having been able to contribute to the Nordic Africa Institutes (NAI) Nordic Africa Days 2016 at Uppsala University was a great pleasure as well as a fruitful and stimulating experience.

It is not often that one has the opportunity to meet over 200 researchers from more than 36 countries, of which a vast part were African nations. Not only was it very exciting from an academic point of view, but also culturally enriching and great to make new friends and deepen existing relationships.

Personally, I have mostly attended panels around the broader areas of „ICT and Mobile Media“„Feminism“ and „Urbanity and Urban Infrastructure“, which again, was a very enriching experience.

I have contributed to the first area myself with a talk in Panel 10: Gender at the cutting edge: ICTs, social media and social change in East Africa. The panel was organized by Ylva Ekström (Uppsala University, Sweden) and Hilda Arntsen ( Oslo and Akershus College, Norway), who have done a stellar job in putting the panel together in such a thoughtful way.

My contribution was a talk titled
Interrogating M4D-tales: some sociostructural aspects of ICTs and social change in everyday-life. 

Here is an abstract of the talk:

Author: Michael Waltinger (University of Education, Ludwigsburg Germany)

The integration of new media into the everyday and different dimensions of social life are deeply intertwined. Life structures are reflected by the way how media are embedded and given meaning to. The mobile phone in that regard allows, for instance, to examine aspects of the social structures (e.g. roles and mutual expectations) of men and women in society.

While the agency of the subject and increasing availability of media devices need to be stressed in media participation and social change, the importance of structural challenges must not be overlooked. As issues of media access diminish, issues of knowledge, skills and resources gain importance – especially in lower-income urban settings and among women.

Media participation is no sure-fire success initiated by media availability – techno-euphoria needs to be ‘handled with care’. While people certainly bring media competencies with them and also appropriate new competencies in their daily media usage, structural constraints are real and self-socialisation in media usage has its boundaries – these are marked by the life conditions of and (educational) resources available to people.

Women in urban Kenya often are part of the informal economy, do not advance much beyond primary education, and there often is a lack in public media education. At the same time, women do often voice need and interest in maximizing their knowledge in order to fully utilize mobile media to their needs. Structural constraints, however, keep them from attending workshops, skill trainings, and the like. The daily hustle and struggle as well as the social responsibility of woman for caring (and often providing) for their families make it difficult to attend trainings or workshops. Hence, while it is often the less-educated and socio-economically disadvantaged that would want assistance the most, these are exactly the people for whom it is most difficult to benefit from respective opportunities.


Talk and Workshop on „Media and Cultural Education“ @Education is Relation not Output?-Conference (Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)

Education is Relation not Output

The conference

It has been a great pleasure to attend the recent conference „Education is Relation not Output? – Scenes of Knowledge and Knowledge Acquisition“ (May 17th-19th 2016) at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden.

The conference was held in cooperation with the international scientific network Tacit Dimensions of Pedagogy. The conference’s purpose was as follows:

Re-thinking the idea of university and scholarly life means to critically examine the conditions for teaching in terms of the current policy discourses and freely develop an idea of university out of an international perspectiveUniversity does not exist simply to convey information or expertise. It is a society in which everyone is responsible for in a reflected way participating in diverse relationships to him-/herself, to others and to the world, and, based on diverse forms of knowledge and representation, actively forming them. In this conference combined with other spaces for discussion perspective on university as a place for social development will be opened up by academic scholars as well as by professionals in the fields of school as well as of art.

My contribution on „Media and Cultural Education“

My own contribution was a talk and workshop that was held within the panel „Art, Visual Culture and Media„.

In my opening talk, I was aiming for tapping into the idea of shaping a perspective on university as a place for social development from an international perspective beyond simply conveying expertise, but to see the university as responsible in helping people to advance in a direction of reflectively participating in diverse relationships to oneself, others and the world.

Especially since contemporary life is happening in spaces of intense proximity, where the interdependence of the diverse nations and cultures becomes more and more obvious, it is important to empower people to competently navigate those spaces. Hence, I proposed an increased emphasis on and discussion of media and cultural education as a means to social cohesion within the university as a place of public education.

The conference paper of the talk (ca. 10 pages) can be downloaded here (pdf-file). A book publication as a conference outcome is forthcoming. My paper will be found there as an official publication then, too.

A short remark on (the type of) mobile phones in urban Kenya

When being asked about my PhD-research (which is on the meaning of mobile phones in urban Kenya), I all too often hear the question: „Do ‚they‘ have phones there?“

The short answer is: Yes.

A slightly longer answer, with a bit more of an interpretive touch, may well be given by a participant of my field research – the person here talks about what happens if you get robbed (which might happen in Nairobi), and a robber ‚catches‘ you with a cheap mobile phone (referred to as a kabambe in Nairobi):

Nowadays, if you walk with a kabambe, they [the thieves] even beat you up. Coz it can´t be that nowadays in Nairobi someone can walk without or doesn´t have a smartphone. field research participant (2014)

The word kabambe in Kiswahili refers to a very basic mobile phone, often not even a feature phone. A kabambe is typically locked to be used with one specific provider only. Its main functions usually are calling and texting – maybe also a calender, calculator and FM radio.

Example of a "kabambe" (© Michael Waltinger, 2013)

Example of a „kabambe“ (© Michael Waltinger, 2013)

Field Research_basics seminar at Linnæus University (Växjö)


Today, I had the great pleasure of holding a research seminar (högre seminarium) on the „Basics of Field Research“ at the wonderful Linnæus University (Linnéuniversitetet), one of Sweden’s newest and very well equipped and beautiful higher education institutions (founded from a merger of the Kalmar and Växjö universities in 2010).

It was a great and inspiring seminar with fruitful discussion that I have enjoyed very much. I would like to also take this opportunity to once again thank the University for the invitation. I will gladly come back anytime.

The University is located in Växjö, which in itself is a very picturesque university town in Småland, Southern Sweden. Although todays seminar was not on the Sociology of Technology or Media Education, an engraving on one of the cities pavements reminds us:

„Vi sällskapa
för mycket
med maskinerna
och för lite med oss själva“
(Elisabeth Bergstrand-Poulsen)

Free translation:

We hang out
too much
with machines
and too little with ourselves.

sällskapa med maskinerna

Presentation of the MediaMap-research method on the 32nd GMK-Forum on „Communication Culture“ in Cologne

KOMED_CologneKOMED-building in Cologne, Germany

I just got back from the really exciting and fruitful 32nd Forum on Communication Culture in Cologne (November 20th – 22nd 2015), which was on Communication cultures in digital worlds: concepts and strategies in media pedagogy and media education. The forum was hosted by the Society for Media Pedagogy and Communication Culture (GMK – Gesellschaft für Medienpädagogik und Kommunikationskultur).

Having been invited by Prof. Dr. Thomas Knaus (Scientific Director to the Frankfurt Research Center for Media Technology [FTzM]) to participate within his research workshop „Creative methods of researching digital communication cultures“, I had the great opportunity to discuss the „MediaMap“-research method that I developed in my ethnographic field research on the meanings of mobile phones in everyday life in urban Kenya (Nairobi).

A brief on the MediaMap-research method

The MediaMap

  • is an exploration of a qualitative media research-method that has developed from my ethnographic field research on the meanings of mobile phones in everyday life in urban Kenya (Nairobi)
  • it is a semi-structured, interactive combination of both an interview- and a mapping-method
  • it transcends the mere verbal level of interview-methods by adding a visual and a tactile layer
  • it aims for developing a holistic and contextualized understanding of media appropriation and media ecologies in their embedding in peoples everyday lives.

Below is a photograph of an example of a MediaMap as produced by a participant in my field research in Nairobi (Kenya):

example of a media map
© Michael Waltinger, 2014

A fully developed article on how the MediaMap exactly works as well as its theoretical and methodological framing will be published towards the end of 2016. If you are interested in the method or have any questions in the meantime, you are more than welcome to get in touch anytime.




poem. untitled (but on gender).

poem. untitled, but on gender

Digitaler Burnout? Forschungsprojekt „Menthal Balance“ sucht (und gibt) Antworten 

Eine aktuelle Meldung des WDR (aus: Mosaik – das Kulturmagazin) macht Aufmerksam auf ein interdisziplinäres und internationales Forschungsprojekt an der Uni Bonn, welches sich mit einem hochrelevanten Thema auseinandersetzt: der potentiellen Fragmentierung des Alltags durch Smartphonenutzung. Es geht dabei – kurz und bündig – um die Frage, wie damit umzugehen ist, dass viele Menschen gehäuft Tätigkeiten im Hier und Jetzt im Schnitt knapp alle 20 Minuten unterbrechen, um ihr Smartphone in die Hand zu nehmen.

Das Menthal-Forschungsprojekt umfasst sowohl eine Android-App, mit der sich die eigene Smartphonenutzung tracken lässt (um sich damit potentiell auf „digitale Diät“ zu setzen), als auch eine umfassende Studie über den Gebrauch von Mobiltelefonen, indem über die App das Mobilfunkverhalten tausender Nutzer erhoben und ausgewertet wird.

In diesem Zusammenhang ist auch das Buch „Digitaler Burnout“ von Alexander Markowitz (2015) zu sehen. Es steht die durchaus nachvollziehbare These im Raum, dass permanente Unterbrechungen des Alltags (Fragmentierung eben) durch das Handy Flowerlebnisse (sprich: sich voll und ganz auf eine Tätigkeit im Jetzt einzulassen und konzentriert in dieser aufzugehen) unterbinden – und Flow ist eben genau das, was den Alltag ausgeglichen macht und Gefühlen der Gehetzt-Seins entgegenwirkt.

Ein Blick in die Leseprobe des Buches (das durchaus in amerikanischer Manier, d.h. recht eingängig, geschrieben ist) lässt eine differenzierte Herangehensweise an das Thema vermuten. Wohl warnende Worte, aber kein hilfloser Rundumschlag á la „Digitale Demenz“ – wenngleich das Wording in eine ähnliche Richtung geht. Der Blick ins Buch lässt vermuten, dass das Werk wohl warnen und auf Auswirkungen aufmerksam machen möchte, dabei aber doch auf medienkompetenzorientierte Lösungen abstellt. Ich werde versuchen, ein Rezensionsexemplar zu bekommen und dann mehr dazu zu sagen.

Talk on fostering Digital Literacy @ Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) 2015


The Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) 2015 with more than 400 participants from over 90 countries –  hosted by The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) – is in full swing and the first day of the main conference just came to an end. There was plenty of lively and fruitful debate on issues of internet access from a multi-dimensional perspective with a strong emphasis on social and structural inequalities.

I was pleased to be chosen to give a talk on „Promoting Digital Literacy in Developing Regions: Business Goals and Media Education in unison“, where I shifted the emphasis slightly from issues of physical access (i.e. the digital divide) to a more skill- or digital/media literacy-based approach to viewing barriers in access to the (mobile) internet – the so called „2nd-level digital divide“. My talk was inspired from and drew on my field research experiences from my ongoing PhD-research on the meanings of mobile phones in everyday life of urban Kenya (Nairobi).

SIF Unconference programme

While I was stressing the possibility of the corporate sector to bridge those gaps in media education that are not covered by public education curricula, I also pointed out the need of teaming up with professional (media) educators in order to carry out such trainings in a sensitive manner and not make them serve business interests alone. Here is the abstract of the talk I gave:

Physical access to the internet is still an issue in many sub-Saharan nations. What matters equally, however, are the still low levels of digital literacy among users. This is to say that the availability of digital media does not really help, if people have problems in using these services.
This is not only a problem because it means that people who can not fully use digital tools will suffer from further societal exclusion and economic disadvantages. The other problem is that media literacy training is often not part of public education and, if private lessons are taken, mostly expensive.
Since the digitally semi-literate represent a vast clientele of sub-Saharan media markets, I suggest that the mobile industry sets up training camps to bridge that gap in media education. This is not only to serve the public good (CSR) but also to develop businesses, because customers will be able to use the future services/devices. Users would benefit from media skills-development that leads to improved usage scenarios, while at the same time being part of the product design process and not having to appropriate technologies that were originally designed for other times and places (i.e. the west).

There was a short interview conducted with me just before the talk, which can be viewed below:

I am already looking forward to the second part of the conference tomorrow!