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Transitions in digital personhood: Online activity in early retirement

Posted on 18 May 2017

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I have just returned from presenting a new paper at the ACM CHI Conference 2017 in Denver, US. This work captures the final study on the recently completed EPSRC Charting the Digital Lifespan project, which considered how people's experiences of transitioning into retirement were shaped by Internet use.

We worked with a group of recent retirees who reflected a proactive outlook on embracing a new life chapter and exploring new technology and new perspectives. Our qualitative analysis revealed how internet-enabled computing shaped their transitional experiences, having a significant impact on well being. Our participants described, in their own ways, how they at first became 'addicted to computers', and then were working towards a more responsible and 'balanced' use in order to achieve well being.

The study was design-led. A prototype interface was 'deployed' in the retirees' homes for a month, which offered them a new window onto how they use their most popular online services - a visual 'data trail' of their everyday life online.  This visualisation prompted participant reflection and 'revelation' at subsequent interviews about being online in early retirement.

The paper is available at the following link:

Illustrations by Diego Trujillo Pisanty.