Transitions in digital personhood: Making sense of online activity in early retirement

Abigail Durrant (Lead / Corresponding author), David Kirk, Diego Trujillo-Pisanty , Wendy Moncur, Kathryn Orzech, Tom Schofield, Chris Elsden, Andrew Monk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Citations (Scopus)
355 Downloads (Pure)


We present findings from an experience-centered study about how Internet use supports self-functioning following the life transition into retirement. This qualitative study engaged six recent retirees and included the field deployment of OnLines, a design research artifact that logged and visualized key online services used by each participant at home over a four-week period. An interview
was conducted before and after each deployment, alongside a group interview with three available participants. OnLines prompted participants’ perspective taking and reflection on their patterns of Internet use. Data was analyzed using a
phenomenological method. Position Exchange Theory was further used to understand retirees’ sense making on online activity from a lifespan perspective, informing the design of supportive online services. This paper delivers a three-fold contribution to the human-computer interaction (HCI) field: to the lifespan-oriented discourse by conceptualizing personhood as a dialogical phenomenon that develops and changes over time; to the ageing discourse by studying
retirees’ complex identities in the context of their life histories; to the discourse on research through design, using OnLines to foster participant reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2017
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450346559
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2017
EventCHI '17: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Denver, United States
Duration: 6 May 201711 May 2017


ConferenceCHI '17
CountryUnited States
Internet address


  • retirement
  • lifespan-oriented research
  • personhood
  • Ageing
  • research through design
  • position exchange theory

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