Feeling (your) Data in a more-than-human world: Rituals and the sharing of animal images online by older adults

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Larissa Hjorth, RMIT University


Peta Murray (ECR) RMIT
Jacob Sheahan (PhD) RMIT



Research Areas:

Aging and community-driven data

“Feeling (your) Data in a more-than-human world” is an ethnographic and social media analysis of the rituals and sharing of animal images online by older adults. Building upon work with Cherished Pets Foundation, which explored the values and meanings of companion animals in older adult lives, this study examines how these images represent the feelings and experiences of older adults and the value of the “more-than-human” in their lives.

The study documents key hashtags like #animals, #older adults across social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. This data then aids in facilitating in-depth ethnographies with ten older adults. Resulting insights capture what the sharing of images of companion animals online says about the everyday rituals and routines of older adults in a datafied world.

This study uses an embodied approach to explore the affect and feelings that exist within the raw data. Incorporating methods such as interviewing, app walkthrough and scenarios of use, this approach to digital ethnography involves charting experiences and feelings which lead to the sharing of images. In doing this, the study considers how visualisations and visuality help us to make tacit emotions and associations concrete.