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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by transcript Verlag January 12, 2018

‘Re-appropriating’ Facebook? Web API mashups as Collective Cultural Practice

Stefan Werning
From the journal Digital Culture & Society


In contemporary debates about socio-technical implications of software, the platform metaphor, the corresponding notions of architectures and ecosystems as well as the formatting of data to afford ‘platformization’ play a central role. This approach has certainly proven fruitful to assess the role of companies like Facebook in contemporary society. However, it characteristically overlooks the messiness of actual usage practices and those studies that do acknowledge the internal power struggles that subcutaneously shape platforms often take a top-down perspective, disregarding bottom-up processes of (re-) appropriation. To address this gap, the article outlines a method to study how users and semi-professional developers collectively frame the cultural imaginary of a platform by conducting a thoroughly comparative content analysis of mashups created using the Facebook Web API. The affordances of many individual mashups might be considered marginal; yet, the tool-assistant comparison allows for inferring common patterns of interpretation that characterize mashup creation as a mobile digital practice, which plays a key role in social media platform development.

Published Online: 2018-1-12
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2018 by transcript Verlag