Track your media: Know thyself


“Track all the media that you put into your head after you leave this classroom”, said Ethan. The exercise was demanding, I did it for five days and the interruptions felt unnatural as I was collecting the data of my Whatsapp’s messages, the news I read or my mom’s FaceTime calls. However, that neurotic gathering of information paid off: at the end it provided a revealing portrait of my media behavior.

Among other things, I discovered that I’m locked in a microscopic part of the Internet, that I’m consuming media one in every four minutes, and that E-mail takes most of my time in front of a screen.

Gathering the data

To collect the data I took screenshots of all the digital media that I consumed via my mobile or my laptop.

150 screenshots in five days

150 screenshots in five days

Then I organized all that information (time, device, language, format, etc.) in a Google Spreadsheet that turned out to be nine columns and 134 rows.

Interviewing the data

I used WTFcsv, a tool included in the set, to visualize my data and start asking it questions. In some cases I also used the Explore function embedded in Google Spreadsheets.

1. How much time did I spend in front of a screen?
Five days have 7200 minutes, and let’s say that I slept 1800 of them (6 hours per day), so I was awake for 5400 minutes. During the five days of the exercise I spent 1331 minutes consuming digital media: that means that I was 24.6% of my time in front of a screen.

One in every four minutes I’m consuming digital media. That’s just shocking.

2. How diverse is the media that I consume?
Using pivot tables in Excel I found out that I only visited 45 unique websites, that’s an average of 9 different websites per day. There are around 990,950,000 websites in the Internet right now. In proportion, the 45 websites that I visited are like the size of a particle of dust (0.5 µm) in the Big Ben.

dust in big ben

See that speck of dust? It’s what I know of the Internet.

I also discovered that I only used 17 of the 87 apps that I have installed on my mobile… No comments.

3. When in the day do I consume more digital media?
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.36.44 PM

4. What media format do I consume more?
formats 5. In which activities did I invest more time?
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.34.15 PM

6. En qué idioma consumo la información?

8. Time invested in each activity


Things that I would like to know but that I couldn’t visualize

  • Infrastructure of the Internet. The location of the farthest server that send me information, for example.
  • Gaps in the consumption. Besides my hours of sleep, how much time did I spend without consuming any kind of digital media?