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Ego Media Timeline

The following timeline combines developments in new media and associated technologies, key events relevant to our Ego Media work, and the chronology of the project. It does not attempt a comprehensive history of new media. It can be read alongside our Diaries Timeline on the Ego Media research website, which it criss-crosses.

There are of course many ways to select and depict: compare as a version of history, as an interactive history through timelines, and as a way of mapping personal travel in digital time.

The survival of digital materials is fragile, even with the Wayback Machine (2001 on) and other archives, including museums and libraries, which are also digitising their material contents. Museums are emerging, devoted to objects of the digital age and the history of computing - for instance

Books survive for hundreds of years: how long will the future be for the Ego-Media Project's digital output? Designers described it as likely to be one of graceful degradation – that is, it should retain basic functionality even when users move on to new systems (the opposite is progressive enhancement, or adding functionality.)

The Ego-Media Project officially had a lifetime of five years, the maximum time for big grants. Is that a long time? Will its influence last longer?

a) Time before the Internet

c. 1400 BCE

First status update: Babylonian clay tablet (see the start of the Diaries Timeline)

c. 100 BCE

Construction of the first known analogue computer, the Antikythera mechanism

c. 1819

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) starts working on his first difference engine


Babbage describes his analytical engine -- the first design for a general purpose computer

September 1843

Ada Lovelace (1815-52), friend and collaborator of Babbage's, publishes an algorithm thought to be the first computer programme


The To-Day and To-Morrow book series published.

December 1943

Colossus Mark 1, the first programmable, electronic, digital computer demonstrated successfully.


The first stored programme computers introduced.


The Altair 8800 introduced; often said to be the first personal computer.

b) The Time of the Internet


Academic and military precursor networks to the internet developed.


BITNET Relay Chat (IRC precursor) launched

December 1988

IRC launched


Public commercial use of the internet begins.


Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web


Gulf War & Soviet coup, both covered on IRC

August 1991

World Wide Web made available to the general public as Berners-Lee's first browser is released.

1993-1996 (approx.)

'Bot Wars' on IRC

14 February 2005

YouTube started

February 2006

Jaiku ('link' between IRC and Twitter) launched

March 2006

Twitter launched


'Formative years' of Twitter in which many major features were introduced


YouTube partner programme launched

June 2009

Death of Neda Agha Soltan – filmed on a camera phone and shared on the web via YouTube – goes viral under #neda

September 2009

Launch of original Fitbit

18 December 2010

Arab Spring starts with protests in Tunisia, and continues to mid-2012

22 September 2011

Facebook announces "Timeline": “all your stories, all your apps and a new way to express who you are.”

October 2011

Apple launches new iPhone 4S with beta version of Siri

November 2012

Ego Media application submitted to the ERC


#BlackLives Matter launched after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of the unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin

March 2013

Novelist Andrea Seigel recounts her discovery of ASMR culture on This American Life

June 2013

Snowden leak

August 2013

Ego Media project awarded ERC Advanced Grant


GamerGate & associated harassment campaigns, in which both IRC and Twitter played a role


Snapchat Stories

May 2014

Ego-Media project launched

August 2014

Adam Baldwin tweets about #GamerGate

November 2014

Amazon Alexa launched

September / October 2015

Rebecca Roach teaching a Literature & Media class on Kittler’s Discourse Networks after ‘pig-gate’ erupted on Twitter and the conversation that generated


2015: James Bond, Spectre and the perceived threat of joined up data

24 April 2015

Launch of Apple Watch

May 2015

Ego-Media launches ‘Life-Online Today and Tomorrow’ series of public discussions, which runs through to June 2017

Summer 2015

Ego Media's Mass Observation Directive

September 2015

Ego-Media hosts international network meeting and public roundtable events

23 June 2016

Brexit Referendum

2 August 2016

Instagram launches Stories

8 November 2016

USA Elections, in which Twitter played a similar role

November 2016

Sleeping Giants launched

January 2017

Women’s March (worldwide); Trump tweets policy (Muslim ban)

26 May - 7 July 2017

Dear Diary Exhibition

June 2017

International Auto/Biography Association - Europe – focusing on ‘Life Writing, Europe and New Media’, and hosted by Ego-Media and the Centre for Life Writing Research at KCL - running the week of the London Bridge bombing

June 2017

Facebook announces it has more than 2 billion monthly users.

October 2017

#MeToo launched to demonstrate scale of sexual violence and harassment world-wide

November 2017

Publication of NYT Magazine interactive story (Azmat Khan & Anand Gopel, ‘The Uncounted’, 16 Nov 2017) and linked news / editorials / podcasts, etc. about coalition’s approach to targeted airstrikes and civilian casualties in the Iraq War, using qualitative and digital methodologies to track victims

December 2017

Recode publishes ‘The 100’ and editor Kara Swisher pulls out ‘The Terrible 10’, identifying not only of bad digital behaviour in 2017 but offering a broader critique of tech and its influence on civil society

Winter 2017/18

Facebook changes its News Feed algorithm to prioritize content from “friends, family and groups.”

February / March 2018

Parkland shooting and subsequent social media campaign to raise awareness / register voters by victims and advocates; David Hogg and supporters organise advertisers’ boycott of ‘The Ingraham Hour’

March 2018

News reports of Cambridge Analytica having acquired personal data from Facebook

March 2018

EC threatens legislation unless major social media platforms progress with respect to countering ‘extremist threat’

April 2018

Zuckerberg senate hearings / Russian election hacking etc

April 2019

Ego-Media project due to conclude, but granted extension to produce this digital publication

31 October 2019

Ego-Media Project concludes

May 2019

Facebook changes its algorithm to the News Feed ranking algorithm to incorporate data from surveys about who you say are your closest friends and which links you find most worthwhile.

14 August 2019

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds 'People's PMQs' live on Facebook


Project status: Completed
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Principal Investigator