Capturing Mobility: The Time–Space Diary as a Method for Assessing Media Use Niches

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diary method, media competition, media measurement, niche theory, uses and gratifications

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As mobile media have grown more advanced, and mobile Internet access has increased to a near-ubiquitous state, media use is often described as occurring “anytime, anywhere.” Consequently, measuring media use and understanding competition and coexistence within such an environment is a constant challenge for researchers. To help address this issue the present study explicates a method for measuring media use and competition, the time–space diary, and reports a methodological study testing the robustness of this method across 3 diary instruments. Following a summary of concepts central to mobile media use and measurement, this study reports findings from data collected using 3 types of time–space diaries. Results indicate no significant difference between diary methods (paper and pencil, audio recorder, mobile device) on the likelihood of reported media use, and minimal differences in patterns of competitive superiority, supporting the reliability of the method. Paper-and-pencil diaries are argued to offer the greatest use flexibility relative to audio recorders and mobile devices, and received higher ease of use scores relative to mobile devices. The article concludes with a discussion of the utility of the time–space diary method for emerging mobile media research which must account for media use in novel times and places, as well as multichannel media consumption.

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Mobile Media & Communication, v. 6, issue 1, p. 127-145