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Charting the Digital Lifespan

During NEoN 13 Dr.Wendy Moncur FRSA gave us an interesting insight into our digital lifespan and questioned what happened to it when we die. As a reader in Socio-Digital Interaction at the University of Dundee, Dr Moncur’s research explores the bequest, inheritance and repurposing of personal data, such as emails, photos and social network site interactions, in the context of the death of technology users.

Wendy is looking for volunteers who fancy charting their digital lifespan, especially (but not exclusively) young adults 18-21 who are not at University.

What is the Charting the Digital Lifespan project about?

Although digital (online) life is everywhere, researchers still don’t know as much about it as people who are using it all the time.  We also don’t know much about how online life changes across the lifespan. The purpose of the CDL project is to begin to answer some questions about how online life is a part of everyday life, and how online life changes across the lifespan.  We as researchers also want to help people living in the UK think about the future of technology and online life.

What do I, as a young person, have to do with this?

One part of the lifespan we are interested in is the transition from secondary school to something else.  Although for about 40% of young people in Scotland, this transition is into University, 60% of young Scots do something else – go into work, volunteer, etc. To represent Scotland, we want to talk to people who are doing a variety of things as young adults.

What is involved in participating in the project?

If you choose to join this project, you will be asked to:

1.     Take part in an interview (one-on-one) or focus group (no more than 4 people) about how you use online services (for example, Facebook) and functions (for example, photo sharing) and how this online activity links to your offline life. This interview/focus group will be audio-recorded with your permission.

2.     Go online with the researcher to show images (of your choosing) connected to your online life to serve as a basis for discussions about image categorisation and identity.

3.     Choose whether to make images and associated comments from your Facebook profile available for further research as part of this study.

How much time will this take, and when would it happen?

The time for an interview will be approximately one hour. We will schedule the interview at a time and location convenient to you in Dundee.

We are currently looking for interviewees available either between 9th and 20th December, or between 6th January and 14th February. A specific date and time will be arranged between you and the researcher.

What will I get out of this study?

The researchers on the CDL project team hope that the experience of contributing your ideas and reflecting upon your online life will be enjoyable for you. You will be involved in research that aims to generate new understandings about the digital lifespan as it is lived in the UK today, and as it is envisioned in people’s future lives.

Upon completion of the study you will receive a £10 Amazon gift voucher to thank you for your voluntary participation.

How do I participate if I am interested?

Please contact the researcher Kathryn Orzech on the project email 

She will get back to you promptly to answer any further questions you have about the project and/or schedule a time to meet for an interview.