Final Project – Annotated Bibliography

Bogost, Ian, and Will Wright. Persuasive Games : The Expressive Power of Videogames. MIT Press, 2007.

(Academic Source)

In this text, the author utilizes historical, english, and media studies methodologies to analyze the ways in which videogames open new domains for persuasion and influence utilizing unique forms of rhetoric. He discusses how ‘procedural rhetoric,’ which is tied to the procedural affordance of computers that was mentioned in our class, creates “rule-based symbolic manipulation.” Bogost also examines the ways in which videogame structure can disrupt societal systems and create cultural changes. This book relates to my topic because I will directly analyzing the different methods that developers utilize to get users to meditate more. One such method that coders often use is gamification, or the use of videogame-like user experiences to get meditators to return to their application. I have not yet learned too much about gamification, so it will be crucial to delve into this book for this project and other similar research projects. The author’s detailed attention to rhetoric is an interesting and important inclusion that gives a fresh look at this topic.

Carissoli, Claudia, et al. “Does a Meditation Protocol Supported by a Mobile Application Help People Reduce Stress? Suggestions from a Controlled Pragmatic Trial.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 18, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 46–53. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0062.

(Academic Source)

This source is a research study published in 2015 which analyzed how a 3-week mindfulness and meditation protocol delivered through an Android phone application affected the stress levels of one group compared to a control group. The study utilized psychological and general health methodologies. The results of the study did not show any significant differences between the two groups, and the authors also detail any potential study limitations. I chose to include this publication for my research project not for the results (although I do find them interesting), but for the ways in which the study discusses the application interface that the researchers utilized to deliver their meditation protocol. It will be important to have a more scientific, peer-reviewed source that discusses the technology from another disciplinary angle. This study is also adding a lot to the international conversation about meditation and meditation technology, as there have not been many experiments done on meditation phone applications.

Johnston, Matt. “I’ve Been Using a Meditation App on My Phone for a Week and It’s Changing My Life.” Business Insider, 15 Mar. 2015,

Even though this source is short and is a newspaper article, it gives a great analysis of the user experience of the Buddhist meditation app “Buddhify.” It is particularly helpful because the source below is an academic chapter that analyzes the same app from a more academic lens, so with both sources in tandem, I will have a great look into both the theory behind the app (academic source) and the practice/UX of the app (this article). The author even includes his personal experiences as well as screenshots from the app. This really helps one visualize the way in which users incorporate different aspects of the app into their routine. Even though the author’s experiences are anecdotal, they are still a type of valuable evidence. Although, I want to analyze the app Headspace, this article gives me great step-by-step examples of how think about and analyze an application.

Religion and Popular Culture in America, Third Edition. Accessed 3 Mar. 2018.

(Academic Source)

This chapter, titled “Meditation on the Go: Buddhist Smartphone Apps as Video Game Play,” serves as the foundational text for this research project. It utilizes both religious studies and media studies methods to analyze the ways in which the phone application “Buddhify” utilizes and transforms religious ideas and practices in order to share Buddhist meditation and mindfulness with a wide, secularized audience. The article explores themes like religious authenticity, representation, interaction through different forms of media, effects on popular culture, spiritual vs. religious, gamification, and more. Although my paper will mostly pull from the chapter’s media studies notions, I will still have the chance to utilize this rich source of information. In particular, the parts about “Buddhify’s” interface, ideological background, and user experience will be incredibly helpful. I am excited to apply many of this author’s questions to the application Headspace, as I have used Headspace for a few years. This author’s intriguing use of religious studies and media studies lenses provides an unique look at this intersection between contemplative practice and technology. It is awesome because these disciplines are the ones that I apply during my interdisciplinary research!

“The Higher Life.” New Yorker, vol. 91, no. 19, July 2015, pp. 40–41.
This featured story from the New Yorker takes an in-depth look at phone application “Headspace.” This journalistic approach takes on the topic in a multifaceted way, as the author discusses a variety of smaller things that all directly relate to the app; it profiles the Headspace’s founder Andy Puddicombe, mentions the recent upsurge of meditation and mindfulness practices among businesses in the U.S., it takes a closer look at the inner workings of the phone application, among other topics. I am most interesting in the latter, as I will be analyzing Headspace’s user interface to see what strategies the creators use to successfully sell their product. I am excited to look at this article more closely, as it is the first source that goes into this much detail about Headspace. It will be helpful to have this rich background because knowing some of the theoretical motivations behind the app’s creation will shed light on some of the more creative design decisions.