How we did it
Why these places?
As anthropologists, we seek depth as well as breadth and therefore commit to conducting long-term research in small fieldsites. We aimed for a generally global approach, but our selection of fieldsites depended on the expertise of the team. We each spent 15 months in our respective fieldsites, maintaining close contact with each other and comparing fieldnotes. What was special about our project is this comparative approach, with each researcher focusing on the same themes simultaneously around the world. This is why our books about the research all have the same chapter headings, yet the findings are exceptionally diverse.
To understand social media in the context of people's relationships and daily lives, you often need to discuss very private matters. In order to protect the identities of our research participnts we anonymise individuals and ensure content cannot be connected to them unless they have given consent otherwise, for example when featured in films and photos. Apart from the two largest towns, we have used pseudonyms instead of the actual names of our fieldsites.
Near the start and end of our fieldwork we carried out short surveys of around 100 people per fieldsite, and occasionally we undertook larger surveys, for example with 2,496 school children in our English fieldsite. Some results can be found in 'How The World Changed Social Media'.