The Digital Discourse Database is the cornerstone of a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation under the rubric of Cultural Discourses and Social Meanings of Mobile Communication (Jan 2016-Dec 2018; CRSII1-160714). This project is itself part of a larger Sinergia research programme on “Language, Individuals and Ideologies in Mobile Messaging” conducted together with colleagues at the universities of Zurich, Bern, Neuchâtel and Leipzig. (See What's Up, Switzerland? website for more details.)
Undertaken with a full-time doctoral researcher (Vanessa Jaroski) and part-time assistant (Sabrina Subasic), the Cultural Discourse and Social Meanings of Mobile Communication project takes a cultural approach to the language of mobile communication by asking: “How is mobile communication talked about in public contexts?” and “How do mobile communicators describe their own linguistic and communicative practices?” In other words, the focus here is on language about mobile communication as a way to illuminate broader media ideologies and language ideologies. The project asks: How are people’s preferences and practices shifting? What are their interpersonal, affective and practical motivations for using one mobile technology over another? To what extent are these on-the-ground preferences and practices reflected in wider public discussions about mobile/online communication?
The project is organized around two complementary strands of research activity, all of which centre on the creation of a unique, open-access repository (the Digital Discourse Database) for scholars and students engaged in the study of new media language. The first, primary strand of work entails archiving and analysing a substantial dataset of national, regional and also international newspaper reports about new media language with specific reference to mobile messaging. The second, supplementary strand of work entails an up-to-date ethnographic survey of local Swiss users of mobile/online communication technologies. A distinctive feature of the Digital Discourse Database (and the project as a whole) is the archiving of visual representations of mobile communication and other new media.