mStories: exploring semiotics and praxis of user-generated mobile stories

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Journal Article
Social Semiotics, 2014, 24 (5), pp. 561 - 581
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© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Innovations in information and communication technologies have allowed people to actively author multimodal content and engage in new meaning-making practices. New Literacies research has gone some way to understanding new meaning-making behaviours. However, this research often derives its understandings from studies undertaken with students enrolled in formal educational settings. Mobile technologies are increasingly situated outside such domains; the informal use of these devices by adults remains on the periphery of scholarly focus. mStories is a creative participatory digital mobile storytelling project. Taking a multidimensional perspective, this article presents the in-depth case analysis of one participant and their mStory. A semiotic analysis found that the user-generated content demonstrated complex and sophisticated multimodal sense relations. However, control over the textual or compositional meta-function of the text was determined largely by the computer interface, with users habituated to relinquishing authorial control over this element. Within this study, mobile literacy praxis was characteristically ad hoc and contextually embedded, and though mobile technology invites such practices, users were neither determined nor limited by this, and happily turned to other devices where necessary.
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