What happened when I kept track of my media usage for a week?

I was tasked with keeping track of all the media I consumed for a week. Yes, all of it — Twitter browsing, BuzzFeed listicles and all.

I approached this project with meticulous detail, pausing every time I opened social media or an article to jot down what I was reading and when. This lasted for roughly… two days. The assignment started on Wednesday and by the weekend, I was consuming media subconsciously and threw my note-taking discipline out the window.

Luckily, in this case, I’m a creature of habit: I relied on my daily trends of reading a few articles from The New Yorker and then whatever pops up on my Twitter feed (a smattering of Vox, Slate, Mashable and TechCrunch, among others) to track most of my media consumption on my phone. That, and my phone battery percentage were telling indicators of how I consumed media.

I also delved into my Chrome history database to fill in the gaps. It’s stored in sqlite format, so I ended up running a few queries against it to extract some telling statistics — or, as my media professor said in class, “Sravanti, you spend so much time on Facebook!” (Sad, but true).

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 1.13.43 AM
Proof that I spend too much time on social media.

I’m not going to pretend I exclusively consume “meaningful” media though — the week I kept track of my media usage was the week that the new Kanye album came out and when new tidbits of information about the Gilmore Girls revival were released. I read more articles about both topics than I care to admit, and it showed in my media consumption.

Interestingly, I realized over the past week that I don’t consume that much “headline” news — I’m keeping up with politics, but just barely, and I’m not super up to date on foreign affairs. Of late, I’ve been trading in my frequent news checks for reading a longform article or two a day. Essentially, I’ll dig into a topic and read a lot about it, instead of reading a little bit about a breadth of topics. I’ve found more value in this style of media consumption, but that’s for another post!


 

If you’re interested in the details of the project and want to see the infographics I made, see the blog post I wrote for my Future of News class, for which this was assigned. I also wrote up a quick tutorial on how I queried sqlite.

 

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