Charting the Digital Lifespan

Charting_the_digital_lifespanWe have yet to experience a complete lifespan in the Digital Age, from conception to death in old age. Those who have grown up interacting with digital technology from a very early age are still young, whilst older technology adopters have identities that pre-date the Digital Age, populated with paper trails of memories. Many citizens have only a limited awareness of the permanency and consequence of posting in public and extended social circles. Digital posts from student or teenage years reflecting opinions or behaviour that seemed socially appropriate at that time may not reflect well in future professional life. The lifelong digital trails generated through our digitally mediated interactions, including online, echo our ‘offline’ lives, but unlike a physical life, the Digital Lifespan can persist indefinitely, and the rich personal context it provides can be harnessed in ways an individual might not expect or desire.

In this Digital Economy themed research, we will produce unique insights into the digital lifespan of UK citizens both now and in a future where our young Digital Natives approach adulthood, become parents and retire. To help generate these insights, we will first chart the unmapped territory of the “Digital Lifespan” as it is now in the UK, exploring the ways in which virtual and physical aspects of our lives converge, diverge and clash. This chart will be grounded in a series of in-depth studies with UK citizens at three transition points in their lives: approaching adulthood, becoming parents and retiring.

Academic Institutions: Dundee, Newcastle, Heriot-Watt, Surrey

Partners: Microsoft Research Limited, Sony Broadcast and Professional Europe, Ofcom