Personal Digital Ecology Research

200 points


Hopefully, at this point you’ve developed a theory of technology and writing. My hope is to give you a theory of technology and writing that helps you think and locate activity the deep connections between technology and writing. In this first assignment for the class, I am asking you to think about the effects digital reading and writing have on you. You will research and represent your own current digital rhetorical practices (including the spaces, times, technologies, identities, and activities related to them). Collectively, let’s call this your personal digital media ecology. Closely observing your own digital media ecology and those of others in this class will prepare you to think strategically about the rhetorical economies you wish to participate in and how you choose to participate, or resist, in them.

Stage one: Getting Started

For a one or two week period, keep a journal that records, on a regular period the rhetorical activities you are doing (see example). To begin, open a word processor, text editor, or spreadsheet to create a master file to record all the information you collect about yourself. You should cut and paste information into this file as you go. As you observe, you might find that you wish to add columns/categories that aren’t part of this example. You should feel free to do so! I would like you to start by logging your, what Latour calls “programs of action.” Your observation log should aim to gather the spaces, times, technologies, identities, activities and people related to them. Our goal here is to operationalize our theoretical readings from the place of our experiences. Make sure to include people. People are a key element to how we understand and feel about writing and technologies.  Make sure to have your log accessible. Something portable. Something usable. Something digital because you have to turn it in. After finding a way to carry your log for yourself, do the following:

  • Check archives kept by the different technologies you use most often for clues about the digital reading and writing you do most frequently. For example, check the history of the browsers that you use, the texting histories kept within your cell phone, and the history of your social media accounts (your “wall” or “feeds”). Export or cut and paste this information into the same word document or spreadsheet.
  • Take notes but also take time to think back to your digital writing over the past 24 hours. Try to write out an hourly list detailing what kinds of digital reading and writing you did over the past 24 hours, including when you use digital media rhetorically as a form of “multitasking” or to structure the time of your day.
  • Save this master document containing data about your digital media ecology. Save the document as “lastname_data” and be ready to use it in the second part of the activity. NOTE: if you do not write digitally at all, you are in a unique position for this assignment.

Stage Two: Categorize and Publish Information About Your Digital Ecology

Now that you have paid close attention to your digital reading and writing, open a new word processing document or spreadsheet. In this document, you will closely analyze the information you collected about yourself in order to begin noticing patterns.

  • Categorize the spaces and times for your digital reading and writing: Make a list of all the digital spaces you visited frequently, occasionally, and rarely in your data collection. When did you tend to visit them (i.e., whenever you have a spare moment, when you need information, when you have a school assignment?) Note the physical spaces you are in when you are in these digital spaces. For example, did you access them from a dorm, apartment, or house that you live in? From classrooms you are in? From a library, café, or coffeehouse? While walking or driving from place to place?
  • Categorize the technologies that mediated your digital reading and writing: Make a list of all the devices you used for digital rhetoric (i.e., laptops, desktop computer, cell phone, tablet PC, laboratory computer) during data collection. For example, how many different computing devices did you use? Did you do most of your digital rhetoric using a phone, laptop, desktop, school laboratory computer, or another device? What other devices were involved but not directly? Be specific about materiality and platform. The difference between Facebook chat and Snapchat matters. The difference between pen and pencils matter.
  • Categorize the activity (it might help to think about the purpose and audience) for your digital reading and writing: How many different kinds of audiences can you think of for the digital rhetoric that you do? How many different purposes for your rhetorical activity can you list? Is most of your digital rhetorical use to maintain connections or relationships? To get news? To cure boredom?
  • What stands out most?

Collect your answers to these questions in the second word processing document you created.

Stage Three: Publish a Word Cloud/Visualization of Your Digital Media Ecology Data

Post a word cloud/visualization on your blog site along with a short post about what you learned through researching your personal digital ecology. Post to your blog your word cloud infographic, your data or concept visualization, and a short post reflecting on your personal digital ecology. You might discuss the following: what technological commodities do you recruit? What programs of action do you engage in? How do your networks create value?


  1. digital media ecology log data
  2. reflection
  3. visualization of digital ecology log


  • wordpress reflection
  • visual representation of data


  • ecology data in Gsuite submitted through moodle
  • link to blog post submitted through moodle



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