There are multiple ways to explore this digital publication.
You can use the
- Themes, Sections, and Contributors tabs at the top of the screen to access (respectively) our themed essays, the nine chapters, and to find out more about each contributor and the content they’ve authored
- faceted seach on the Browse page
- free text search box situated top right of the screen
- visualization on the home page to explore links between themes and sections and to click through to whatever piques your interest
- sitemap to give you an overview of the structure of Ego Media and to see which parts of the publication you’ve already visited
You can watch our “finding your way around” videos and read more about the various navigation options below.
The eight Theme essays, written collaboratively, introduce the ideas and approaches which emerged as the most significant over the course of our work. They draw together Ego Media’s diverse strands, illuminating the connections between, providing an introduction to, and ways into the various sections. If you’d like an overview of our work, one which also places it within its context(s), we’d recommend starting here.
The essays can be read together as an extended introduction to the whole publication. Alternatively, they work as standalone introductions to specific areas of interest. Each one links to the most relevant sections.
If you plan to read all the Theme essays, we suggest doing so in the following order:
- Self introduces our core subject, laying out the life writing approach, the ways in which online self-presentation challenges and transforms it, and the resulting new and emerging views of subjectivity and narrative.
- Methodologies elucidates the ways in which the internet and advanced data analytics used with complex data sets are challenging traditional research in the humanities and social sciences; and sets out the methodological questions and challenges that drove our research and writing. Our interdisciplinary approach produced a high degree of reflexivity about the disciplines and methodologies being used, and this reflexivity characterizes this digital publication as a whole.
The other Theme essays have all been written as freestanding pieces and can be read in any order; you can also shuttle between the Theme essays and Sections following the links. But, if you’d like further direction, we suggest the following order (there are also links at the end of each essay so you can easily follow this sequence):
- Interaction discusses how moving sociality online changes our understanding of accepted definitions of what it means to interact.
- Forms and Practices explores how Ego Media takes a dynamic view of new media developments, less concerned with identifying new media genres which remediate pre-digital ones (as with email to letter), and more with understanding them as an interaction between emergent forms and changing practices among users.
- Software and the Self looks at the different ways in which we conceptualize the relationship between self and software; how, as they become ever more closely entwined in platforms and digital assistants, our experience of and understanding of both are changing.
- Time considers how our sense of time is being altered by global connectedness; by the “always on” culture of 24-7 interaction; by the rhythms of breaking news, streaming, and surveillance.
- Situation introduces the ways in which Ego Media’s contributors have addressed issues of situation, place, and geography and looks at the tension between earlier conceptualizations of cyberspace as a virtual and universal space or non-place, and ways in which the internet has evolved into disjunct bubbles, which often engage with specific locales.
- Interdisciplinarity. A generic hybrid between academic commentary and life writing, this essay takes the form of a set of video and audio author interviews foregrounding our reflections on both the benefits and challenges/frictions of interdisciplinary collaboration.
The lead authors of all the theme essays are named, and in most cases there is a particularly strong connection between the theme they discuss and their work elsewhere in the project. So another recommended route across the publication is to read a theme essay then explore the research by its contributor(s).
Under Sections you’ll find nine tiles grouping together the work contained in this digital book. Most are organized in a similar way, as a cluster of pages under a home page providing a summary of and, where necessary, a guide to the content. In some cases
- the cluster of pages needs to be read in a specific order; in others it doesn’t.
- the sections contain a collection of related writings which appear on different pages. In others, a single sequential argument is developed over several pages.
Start here if you are either interested in a specific piece of work or want to explore the full range of Ego Media’s work.
Where appropriate we have included links within each section connecting it to other work in the publication, offering you the opportunity – should you wish to take it – to digress in a way that may enable you to uncover serendipitous connections. But it is an extensive work, and we appreciate that some readers will want to be more selective. Each section has accordingly been written as a freestanding piece, so if you are looking for work on a particular topic or by a particular contributor, you will able to sample it without loss of coherence.
These Sections are the core of Ego Media – of its original research contribution. Each is written by a world-leading authority in their field or an early-career rising star, and each takes a different perspective on the topic of online self-presentation, as follows (the order we present them in here cannot – for obvious reasons – represent the order in which they will always be read):
Describes and analyzes our collaboration with the Mass Observation Archive at http://www.massobs.org.uk/ to survey views about the internet and social media, and of the extent of self-reflection about self-presentation. Takes a life writing approach to social science materials and methods.
Proposes imaginative agency as a new theoretical concept with great potential for life writing studies, especially digital life writing, exploring the idea through a suite of examples – including emojis, cyberbodies, and Google Doodles – arranged creatively in an Instagram-style grid.
Extends the social-interactional paradigm of small stories research to the analysis of social media communication on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. A sociolinguistic take on self-presentation.
Drawing on game studies, cultural theory, and practice-based research, this section explores how digital technologies are changing our understanding of the voice and its relationship to identity, and considers the role of proxy bodies in online self-presentation.
Explores the ways in which computers speak – and how we present ourselves to them and interact in conversation. Structured and presented in ways to encourage readers to query their role(s) as users/readers and to think about reading as a communicative and interactive process. Written on the interface between life writing and digital humanities.
Three short studies of specific and very different forms and practices of mediated self-presentation: a qualitative study of quantified self-presentation and sharing in fitness tracker use; a platform history comparison of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and Twitter focusing on how the platforms developed in response to user agency; and an interactional sociolinguistic study of the forms and practices of “mommy vlogs” on YouTube.
Considers how the recording and sharing of stories by those who experience conflicts directly and indirectly, approached as a subgenre of life writing, has and has not changed in the social media age. Explores what digital life writing can contribute to war studies
Explores how 1920s futurologists writing about life in the future imagined so much of our networked information age, how the technological imaginary is inseparable from future thinking, and how intellectuals now conceptualize the digital today and tomorrow. An exercise in cultural history taking digital humanities into the past and the future.
In such a fast-moving and shape-shifting field, a conclusion would be a hostage to fortune. Instead, we offer a series of four essays reflecting on social media and our work on the project and for this digital book: 1. What Are Social Media?, reflecting on the objects of study; 2. Researcher Stance, how our contribuors situated themselves in relation to the phenomena they studied; 3. About This “Book,” further thoughts on the nature and ethics of digital publication; and 4. Writing for Online Reading, which focuses on the experience of reading/using/exploring such publications.
Together, these sections constitute a set of probes into telling cases of internet practices. Our rationale for offering them is that online self-presentation, and the changes in subjectivity it is effecting, are happening in multiple ways, in multiple locations, and that an interdisciplinary approach to a diverse range of them is needed to gauge the transformations.
Ego Media is an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in life writing, literary and cultural studies, sociolinguistics, neurology, digital humanities, war studies, and medical humanities.
The team of contributors comprised four professors from King’s College, London: Max Saunders and Clare Brant – both from the Department of English and the Co-Directors of the Centre for Life-Writing Research; Alexandra Georgakopoulou, and Leone Ridsdale. They were joined by five postdoctoral research associates and four doctoral students.
Each Ego Media team member has a profile page. These include
- a brief biography
- short videos/audio files in which they discuss their work
- links to their sections
Start here if you’re interested in work by specific Ego Media contributors.
In addition to the work included in this digital publication, members of the team have published books, articles, and special issues of journals (see https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/ego-media-project-bibliography); have curated an exhibition on Diaries 2.0 (see https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/diaries-2.0); and organized conferences, lectures, and other events. Our additional writing about other projects and activities associated with Ego Media can be found on the Ego Media Project website at https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/ego-media, along with recordings and transcripts of a curated selection of the events we hosted (see https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/life-online-today-tomorrow).
The Browse page offers two further options for exploring Ego Media.
The faceted search enables you to search for combinations of tags. While you can treat the top level tabs as a table of contents, the faceted search is more like an interactive index which enables you to filter content, page by page, using a combination of all or any of the following:
- concept (the ideas that feature on individual pages)
- disciplines/methods (the discipline(s) within which the research on a page fits, and/or the methods employed in the research process)
- platforms/media (the platforms and/or media researched)
- topic (the subjects of research).
We’d recommend starting here if you’re looking for work about a specific platform, research subject, or methodology.
You can also use the free text search box at the top right of the screen.
The tiles below the faceted search on the Browse page represent every page of the publication, enabling readers to browse the contents more serendipitously. They are grouped (as you scroll down) by Theme, component pages of Sections, and Contributors.
Specifically relevant bibliographies can be found at the end of all pages with endnotes.
You can view the complete publication bibliography here.