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Volume 3, No. 2

Published May 19, 2021

Issue description

This issue of JDSR begins with a timely analysis of intimacy in the time of COVID-19 by Jamie Foster Campbell and Zizi Papacharissi. In a contribution likely to resonate with many of us in this pandemic time, the authors illustrate how technology sets the tone for interactions and sustain social capital potentially depleted through pandemic conditions of seclusion. To quote the authors, ‘[d]ifferent worlds lurk behind the screen and our collective experience during this COVID crisis has magnified the liquid nature of intimacy, and the role technology plays in our relational lives as we strive for well-being’.   In the following contribution, the focus on the relationship between technology and well-being continues in Dang Nguyen’s study of networks of traditional Vietnamese medicine discourses on Facebook. Among the interesting results, Nguyen finds that social media may replicate, rather than transform, existing social dynamics that have historically enabled the maintenance of traditional forms of medical knowledge.   Using a case-study from Egypt in an exceptional time of educational change, Hany Zayed’s article explores the use of WhatsApp as a tool for qualitative data collection to examine such change, problematising extant methodological categories, entrenched dichotomies, and epistemological questions while informing broader methodological discussions.   Next up, Gondwe et al. provides us with an interesting study of the effect of numeracy on the believability of digital journalism. Using experiments around audience perceptions from the United States, Zambia, and Tanzania, the authors found that numerical values in news stories tended to appeal less to audiences, except for those with a lower understanding of probabilistic and numerical concepts. While numerical values could benefit readers’ trust in news items, the authors point to a potential dichotomy of concern; ‘while numbers can improve the accuracy of a story, the fact that they limit readership and diminish audience appeal renders them useless’.   Finally, Hasinoff and Bivens close this issue of JDSR by offering us a new method for analyzing what a set of apps designed to solve the same problem can tell us about the relationship between app design and ideology. Building on content analysis, interface analysis, and notions of affordances and speculative design, their method, dubbed ‘feature analysis’, is designed to enable researchers to ‘systematically answer questions about how app developers’ design choices reflect existing cultural norms, assumptions, and ideologies’.

Full Issue