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  • Forms and Practices
  • Interaction
  • Self
  • Software and the Self
  • Time
  • Max Saunders
  • Rebecca Roach
  • Rob Gallagher
  • access
  • affect
  • age
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  • close reading
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  • datafication
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  • digital ethnography & tracking
  • english
  • feminism
  • history
  • identity
  • images
  • impact
  • life writing
  • participation
  • performance
  • place/space
  • privacy, public/private
  • qualitative research
  • quantification
  • questionnaires
  • search engines
  • sharing everyday life
  • social media
  • text messages
  • twitter
  • video
  • web 2.0

Mass Observation directive text

The text of the Ego Media component of the Mass Observation Summer 2015 Directive was as follows:

First task

Please list the first five words or phrases that spring to mind when you think about the term “Internet and online communities."

Do you use the Internet?

If you do, please write about your first memories of using it. What sites were important to you when you first explored the online world?

If you don't use the Internet, please write about why you have avoided it and say if you find it difficult not being online.

Daily routines and practices

When and where do you use the Internet today? On what devices? Do you ration your Internet usage or that of your family? What sites do you regularly use?

Have you ever completed a course to help you use the Internet or a computer? Tell us about this.

Do you use any apps or “wearable technology” that try to influence your behaviour? For example, to help you diet, manage a health problem, run faster, concentrate better, etc.? Do you prefer sites that connect you to a community or do you prefer to go it alone?

Communities and social networking sites

Are you a member of any online communities? Or forums? Or review sites? What do you get out of it?

Do you use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn? Which ones and how regularly? What do you use them for? Do you use the sites for the purpose they were built for, or for a different function (for example, using Instagram to keep a food diary)? Do different sites “feel” distinct from each other? Have you left any sites, if so, for what reason? If you don’t use (any or particular) social networking sites, why not?

Who do you imagine are typical users of social networking sites?

Have you experienced or heard any stories about people misbehaving on social networking sites? Please give details.

Your identity

Would you/do you use your real name and face online? Do you use aliases? Is “who you are” the same across different Internet sites? Has this ever caused any problems?

Do you worry about impersonation and identity theft online? Have you, or has anyone you know, experienced this?

Are you bothered by the idea of governments and corporations accessing and storing personal data? What do you feel about online advertising? Is it different than how you feel about spam or junk mail?

Has the Internet changed your attitudes towards friendship, romance and sex? What about money?

Are their some topics that you would tell Mass Observation, but you wouldn’t put or discuss online? Please give details.

Memory and imagination

Have you used the Internet to research something from your past? How was this experience?

The Internet is only 25 years old, how do you think it will influence society and personal identity over the next quarter century?

Has there been an event in your life that wouldn't have happened without the Internet?


What is the difference between: A letter and an email? A blog and a diary? A video chat (Skype/FaceTime) and a phone call? Tweets and text messages?

Do you present yourself differently on these formats? Please give examples.

A task

Please search your own name (remember not to tell us what this is!) on Google (or a search engine of your choosing). Tell us what you think about the results. How does it make you feel?