Maddie’s Media Diary

From Wednesday, February 15th, to Monday, February 21st, I kept track of my media usage and consumption, including app usage on my phone, laptop, and smartwatch, total time on different apps, and time spent reading or listening to news. I recorded the majority of my usage manually (to the best of my ability) while also using RescueTime to track the activity on my computer. I created the charts below using info.gram.

Below are various charts showing my usage as well as my takeaways from the entire experience:

Technology Usage

I broke down the various methods I consumed media by tracking my activities on each platform. I also kept track of my sleep to show the stark contrast each day between watching television and resting.

Additionally, here is the day-by-day chart of my technology use:


By looking at both charts it’s clear that my time is largely taken up by staring at either my MacBook or my iPhone. This is largely due to my app consumption, especially Netflix (for my laptop) and Twitter (on my phone). I was somewhat surprised by my Apple Watch usage, partially because I thought I looked at it fewer than I do; I averaged 75 glances at my watch each day.   

Application Usage

My media consumption is largely done through an app on either my laptop, phone, or smartwatch. Though I currently have 151 apps installed on my iPhone, I only used these 11 apps for a statistically significant amount of time over the six days:

  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Outlook
  • Twitter
  • Podcast
  • Slack
  • Instagram
  • Microsoft Word
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Text

Here is my total app usage over the past six days:

Additionally, here is the total number of hours spent on each app:


I do wonder how much my app usage depends on my schedule each day. For those where I’m in class more, I seem to rely far more on Outlook and Twitter. But when I’m home, Netflix is the dominant app by far and away. I wish I could’ve seen a snapshot of my usage only a year ago. I know my Twitter usage would’ve been much higher, as I’ve noticed a drop off over the last several months in the time I spend on Twitter each day. This may be due to my exhaustion of political news or simply a move away from checking Twitter compulsively throughout the day for news. Also, I’ve started using Slack more now that I’ve joined a startup team, and we use it as our main means of communication.

Reading Habits

Finally, I wanted to see how much of my day I dedicated to consuming news, and more importantly, how I choose to do so. I know my use of Twitter has decreased over the last several months, but I wasn’t sure if I had dropped from one of my most used apps.

A large portion of my news consumption comes from podcasts, including:

  • This American Life
  • Reply All
  • What What Don’t Tell Me
  • The New York Times’ The Daily
  • NPR Poltiics Podcast

Here is a the breakdown by day of the total number of hours spent on each app each day:


The biggest surprise for me came out of my little use of Facebook. I always assumed it would be one of my most used apps, but I rarely check the app unless I have an event or a friend request. I also included my time on Messenger because it was such a small portion of my overall time on the app.


Maybe the biggest thing to take away from this exercise is how little I sleep or do anything without a screen in front of my face in some way. I’m always inundated by media in some fashion, and the majority of it is something I do without even thinking, such as listening to music or checking my email on my watch or phone.

When I finished my analysis, I realized that I only spent approximately 13 hours in the total 144 hours of the six-day period doing non-technology activities, such as talking with people. It made me realize that it may be time to schedule some sort of technology break for a few days, if only to refresh my mind and remind myself that things are going on around me and not just on a screen.

Jeneé: Media Diary

Josh’s Media Diary: A Tale of Three Devices

The timing of this assignment was a little fortuitous, because the past few months have forced me to reflect on exactly what I read, when, and why. During the 2016 election I became a true Twitter junkie (the communication proclivities of one of the candidates didn’t help) and seldom made it away from the platform towards longer-form content or into a slower-paced environment.

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Sruthi’s Media Diary

The big picture

By Tuesday (21st of Feb) early morning, I tracked about 5.5 days of media usage totalling about 46.6 hours. I used 4 distinct sources of technology – Macbook Air, iPhone, Echo and paper. I used RescueTime to track usage on my laptop, Moment app to track usage on my phone and my good ol’ brain for the rest.

Using a top down approach, following was my overall media usage broken down by category:

 Source: RescueTime, Moment and personal data collected; chart built using

My media usage amounts to about 35% of my day (46.6 hours out of 5.5 days tracked). I spend the rest of my day commuting (without using media), in class, meetings, running errands, socializing, working out and sleeping. Given sleeping forms a third of my day (7 hours per day), my media consumption though significant is not a very bad statistic.

Takeaway 1: Multiple media sources form the 35% daily average media usage for a multitude of tasks

From the smallest to the largest source of media consumption…

Echo (daily average ~ 10 minutes)

Echo has been primary news source in the last week. I listen to headlines and short articles from NY times, WSJ, BBC and Economist as I get ready for the day.

Usually I try to scroll through my NY times, WSJ and BBC phone apps but the usage has been minimal in the last week.My news app usage varies but I find myself needing 15-20 minutes to go through all my news apps during the morning but I haven’t allotted the time since being back to school. I usually listen to news podcasts (economist and WSJ) on my walk to school, but given the snow / weekends my podcast listening has been non-existent.

Takeaway 2: Consume news (mostly headlines) during commute / multi-tasking

Print Media (daily average ~ 1-2 hours)

My print media usage is usually restricted for class readings – articles and cases. Given I am taking 5 courses this semester, all of which are qualitative, it makes sense to read 1-2 hours on a daily basis to prepare for my average 2 classes per day.

Takeaway 3: Print media restricted for coursework ~ associating print with serious media consumption

iPhone (daily average ~ 1.6 hours)

While on average my iPhone usage is around 1.6 hours per week, following is a snapshot of my phone usage for a single day which is reflective of my day-day consumption. I learnt a lot about my phone usage habits and they were pretty consistent with my love of productivity and addictive Instagram usage habits.


Using Moment app on my iPhone, I was able to track app usage by minute, location and time of day. Following is a snapshot for last Monday (20th Feb):

1. Throughout the day, I check my phone 60 times, that means on average once every 17 minutes (excluding 7 hours for uninterrupted sleep time) … clearly a sign of addiction. I used the phone, per check, anywhere from 2 minutes to 44 minutes with a median of 3 minutes, which reflects my fairly short attention span.

2. Home screen – I spend majority of my time using the home and lock screen, which is where I receive alerts from my various news apps. This indicates my sad habit of consuming news headlines in terms of alerts (I mostly get updates from news apps and outlook and check my phone periodically as my phone is always on night mode).

3. Productivity, productivity, productivity apps – sweat, outlook, weather, notes, app store – my focus has been on working out, emailing / checking calendar, taking quick notes, checking weather and getting more apps to improve my productivity. I am not surprised or shocked by the usage numbers given I feel I am at a minimal time per app.

4. Social networking – Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp – my Instagram usage is alarming. I have a preference for visual media consumption especially given my interest in following influencers in food, travel, health and fitness space. I feel Instagram is best suited to connect with influencers and brands I like.

Takeaway 4: Spend time reading in-depth investigative news articles rather than consuming news updates

Macbook (daily average ~ 3.8 hours)

I primarily love using my laptop the most because of the screen space and find it most convenient to use the laptop for both work and entertainment.

  1. Too much entertainment – According to my RescueTime dashboard, I spend 40% of my time on entertainment and rest on more productive applications like outlook and excel. Following is a screenshot of my overall usage last week by top applications used:Source: RescueTime dashboard
  2. Timeline analysis – I created the following heatmap for my three main categories (entertainment, communication and design) to understand my hourly usage patterns across the last few days. The richer the color, the more time spent in that category.

Source: RescueTime data; heatmap built with excel

My main takeaway from my usage indicates that I have productive work hours from 9 am till 8 pm and during the rest of the time I waste my time consuming Netflix for entertainment purposes.

Takeaway 5: Give up Netflix!!!!

Overall, I notice my media consumption is very self-centered in serving my own interests. I would be curious to learn how to a non-participatory citizen, such as myself, to be influenced by subjects outside my interest areas and how these topics could enrich my life.

Lauren’s Media Diary

I am going to focus on one insight I gained out of my media diary, in particular – I was shocked by the magnitude of hours I spend on listening to audio! I spent more time listening to podcasts this week than non-class activities for school (readings, research, and completing assignments).

Looking back, it does make some sense. I put on NPR every morning when I wake up, and whenever I can manage to listen to a podcast, I have one on. I consider listening to podcasts the perfect activity for multitasking when I am not mentally busy, but I can’t use my hands or look at a screen. I listen to podcasts when I am commuting anywhere (i.e. walking to and from class), cleaning, cooking, running, and getting ready to leave the house. I don’t remember the last time I applied eyeliner without a podcast playing in the background.

Because I listen to so much content this way, I thought I would dig into the kind of audio I am consuming, and I created the chart above. I am listening to more news and politics than anything else. I don’t think this is a bad thing, since it is the most realistic way that I will listen to more long-form journalism. I spent a few hours reading long articles through my Pocket suggestions and my print subscription of the New Yorker, but other than that and audio, I mostly get my news through my Twitter feed.

The problem I see from the chart is that I only listened to three audio sources in the news and politics category in the past week, and all of them are distributed by NPR. A big takeaway is that I need to work on diversifying the types of podcasts and audio I listen to for the news.

Please comment below with your favorite podcasts, news or otherwise!

Anne C’s Media Diary


I set up Rescue Time after our first MAS.700 class (February 8) and tracked my time through February 21. I entered offline time, trying to be especially diligent when the time was dedicated to media consumption. For example, during this time period I spent a considerable amount of time reading actual print media for another course I am taking.

I found Rescue Time to be fairly accurate, though I had to customize and clean up the data. I removed times that were idle (i.e., new browser tab, login screen).

A day-by-day comparison of top activities reveals Facebook is the top single time consuming activity.

Comparison of Media by Day

Comparison of Media by Day

When I customized the categories in Rescue Time to reflect their productivity value, the data revealed a shocking amount of time is spent on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). Perhaps it shouldn’t be that surprising, but seeing it displayed in a bar graph, provided visual confirmation of my suspicion.

Media by Productivity Categories

Media by Productivity Categories

The visual display of my “productive activities” showed a fairly high amount of engagement spread across a variety of tasks.

Another useful visual is the output of productive versus non-productive engagement by time of day. My productive time, which includes reading, research, and writing occurs between 2:00pm and 10:00pm. There is a large spike in social media use around midnight or 1:00am, during which time no actual work occurs. Additionally, I often have some type of video streaming simultaneously at this time. This content ranges from news reports to comedy clips to TV shows.

Media Consumption by Time of Day

Media Consumption by Time of Day

This was a useful graph as it helps me understand how my schedule breaks down. I would have hypothesized that my most productive time actually began around 10:00am, but it turns out that time is spent on email and scheduling—time that is spent using gmail, google calendar, and other similar tools.

I come away from this experiment with two commitments. First, I would like to cut my communication time in the morning from two hours to one hour. My second goal will be to reduce my overall social media time, especially during the window of time before I go to sleep.

I will repeat to myself, “there’s no such thing as multitasking” and try to avoid losing efficiency by working on unrelated topics at the same time.

Anne’s Media Diary

From Sunday 2/12/2017 to Saturday 2/18/2017, I tracked my media consumption with RescueTime on my laptop, RescueTime on my phone, and logging time by hand.

This is how RescueTime and my discrete hand-logged records claim I spent my time:

However, my own logs showed the real picture.  With my laptop, a second monitor at home, my phone, and countless apps, I’m constantly multitasking, or at the very least, switching between activities.  

I send my friends excerpts from news articles as I read, providing (unasked for) running commentary.  I run Netflix in the background as I plan out my day in Google Calendar on my second monitor.  I read a case for class, and WhatsApp notifications pop up on my phone, so of course I check them.  

While listening to music on my phone and walking to class, I scroll through Facebook, see an interesting article posted by someone I vaguely remember from summer camp a decade ago, Gchat the link to my friend from college, and start chatting about it, continuing throughout the day.

I originally thought this would be a lesson about distractions and lack of depth in media consumption, but it’s instead about the discussions.  Over the last year, I was oddly proud of myself for actively trying to see other perspectives by actively clicking on Facebook links posted by people with different ideologies.  But that isn’t sufficient — there’s a difference between simply consuming information and being immersed in discussion about that information.

Tyler’s media diary: Using data to break bad habits

I had a suspicion going into this assignment that I’ve developed a few really bad media consumption habits:

  • I spend too much time on Twitter, which is skewing my perception of news coverage.
  • I “graze” way too much, opting for reading headlines instead of reading stories. This means I’m much less informed than I think.
  • My desire to be constantly “in the know” means I almost compulsively check social media first thing in the morning, throughout the day and last thing at night, so it’s more difficult to balance my media diet.

After tracking my media consumption from Feb. 15 through Feb. 20, I can confirm all of these three bad habits are true. The problems may actually be underrepresented, given that this period was a fairly atypical week (as I’ll explain).

Because I wanted to track media consumption across multiple platforms, I opted not to use RescueTime and noted everything manually in a Google Spreadsheet as the week went on. I cross-checked entries with my Google calendar, browsing history and Twitter history to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I didn’t count reading email, unless there was some specific content there that fit the definition of “media” (a newsletter, for example).

The first big finding is pretty glaring: Social media accounts for nearly a third of the time I spend consuming media. Break that down further, and you can see that within the social media category, Twitter takes a lot of the air out of the room.

Twitter is followed by Reddit, which I mostly consume at night before I go to sleep (I also need to cut down on how long I play video games, an issue I blame solely on Stardew Valley).

I’ve made a concerted effort over the last few weeks to spend less time on Facebook, which is why it appears so small in the chart.

One thing to note about the time period recorded: Over the long weekend, I took an out-of-town trip with friends to a spot without great Internet service. I suspect that if I were to repeat the media diary for the next few weeks, there’d be even more Twitter usage, although this may be offset by more media consumption in general.

If I had to guess before taking a closer look at the numbers, I would have said I spend far more time consuming media by phone than by laptop. That’s clearly untrue.

Also of note: I despise online video. Although I didn’t graph this particular breakout, almost all the video I consume is through the TV (in this case a Roku stick), and not through mobile or laptop. And although I do often listen to podcasts, NPR or other broadcast media, I didn’t really do that over this time period.

So despite some data collection problems, it’s pretty clear I’ve got some media consumption issues I want to address:

  • Spend less time on social media — specifically Twitter.
  • Seek out platforms that use more than just immediacy as the driver for news judgement: Instead of the “happening now” on Twitter, find what news editors think is important on the home pages of local and national news organizations.
  • Change the nighttime routine: Use the evening to read physical media or dive deeper into stories flagged online earlier in the day.

Two tools I think will help are Nuzzel, which alerts you to stories being shared often in your timeline, and Pocket, which allows you to save stories and other content you see through either your mobile device or laptop to read later. I’ve already signed up for these services, but I don’t use them often enough to help me consume more content, instead of just reading headlines.

Journaling Media Consumption – Content, Source, Choice

In tracking my media usage for the week, I gained something that I imagine most people gain when engaging in this exercise: anxiety. Anxiety and paranoia that I have stopped paying attention to what media I was being exposed to / exposing myself to, that there were aspects of my media consumption that I was significantly less aware of, or that I was generally unconscious of the majority of my consumption on a daily basis. In other words, it worked.

My strategy for designing my media journal was not simply to find out how often I was accessing media, but to develop an ontology for engaging with media and test it to see what properties of media access were the most revelatory about my habits. What follows is a breakout by each of those properties, some of which are revelatory, and some of which might benefit from collecting over a longer timeline.

First, I categorized my media consumption by what it was about. One thing about recording this was that it drew attention to how frequently I was consuming more than one form of media at the same time. Obviously the largest category, music, was mostly consumed while also engaging with a number of the others. It is no surprise to me that work and social are among the biggest categories, but it was surprising just how large of a percentage was dedicated to art (and Instagram, which I struggled to categorize given that it is a platform with multiple types of content; I went with “social;art”, since my primary use for it is to follow artists and designers).


One of the aspects of the journaling I was most interested in was how much media consumption was a choice vs. forced on me by context and environment. Admittedly, I am likely to have dramatically underreported the media I was involuntarily exposed to. Reflecting on walking through the city, it already occurs to me that e.g. I stood in front of a number of advertisements on the back wall of the subway platform that I was subconsciously aware of, but which didn’t rise to the level of conscious consumption. That said, I do thing what I realized from this process is that, for the media I am at least partially engaged with, most of it is quite purposeful. Non-discretionary is listed, as some media, such as presentations, or readings for classwork were voluntary, but not optional/assigned by others. (This chart is based on number of engagements, not amount of time spent on each piece of media. If this were based on time, it would look dramatically different, skewing toward nondiscrentionary.)


Media type gives a bit more resolution in terms of what I was consuming. What was surprising for me was the variety. If I was to imagine the various types of media I was engaging with on a daily basis, I would have guessed perhaps only 3-4, but it appears there is still diversity in the ways I consume media. Again, advertisements are not broken out here, which might have been interesting. A stand-out is the “platform” category, which represents types such as Twitter, Instagram, Instant Messaging platforms, etc. bringing into focus the amount of times I engage with media in an ecosystem where I am likely to be exposed to many other types of content.


I tracked what channels the media I consumed came to me from. No surprise that I’m the top culprit here in terms of choosing to expose myself to media. Community, friends, and classes are about on equal footing, but on a long enough timeline, I’d be curious to see how this actually played out. My suspicion is that class would spike and the influence of my friends or online communities would stay mostly the same. (I recently purposefully locked myself out of Facebook and handed the keys to a trusted friend, so it was an interesting time for me to journal. I shudder to think what these charts would look like if my usual habits of being tempted into admittedly a lot of good, yet likely superfluous content.)


The amount of social media content here is alarming, even without Facebook. I think that if I spent more time counting the various exposures during class time (when I appropriately wasn’t diverting my attention to log every item) this would balance out with social, or at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself…


In terms of what devices this media is experienced through, I would have expected that “laptop” would have dominated my phone accesses much more. Another comparison I’m going to continue to keep my eye on. Again, this is not based on time spent on engaging with the media, so this chart would likely skew toward “laptop” given the amount of times I use it to read long-form items, which I can’t stomach via my phone. At the same time, if I added up every one of the micro-engagements I had on my phone, it’s possible the gap would be smaller than I’m imagining.


In general, I think the voluntary/involuntary comparison and source of media analyses were the most educational in understanding my own habits of consumption. No doubt, even tracking a handful of metrics for a short time period heightened my conscious awareness of the beginning of an interaction with a given form of media dramatically.