Ethnography of the University / Ethnography of the University: Focus on Knowledge 2020 / Undergraduate Ethnography

Tailoring News to Work Hours and Leisure Time, By Sabrina Wu (Ethnography of the University 2020: Focus on Knowledge)

This blog post was part of the coursework for the Ethnographic Practicum course, “Ethnography of the University 2020: Focus on Knowledge.” It was originally posted in the category “Online Communities.”

Apple News, New York Times, and other news applications provide a convenient service of putting together a string of intriguing headlines as daily notifications. A significant part of my morning routine includes reading these notifications so I can feel as if I have a glimpse of what is going on in the world everyday as a global citizen. These headlines are typically succinct, attention-grabbing, and can summarize the topic of stories within a few words. LinkedIn News similarly showcases these qualities in its daily highlights but it is also tailored to the day of the week.

Part of my participant-observation work on LinkedIn involved paying attention to the types of information that circulated on the platform and how users engaged with them. Knowledge can be tailored and filtered according to the medium that is used to communicate it and how that medium situates itself in relation to the political economy. The right-hand column on LinkedIn consists of time-specific highlights: “Today’s news and views,” “Today’s most viewed courses,” and a featured ad. LinkedIn editors introduce news with a blurb summarizing the event and main takeaways, followed by a thread of linked articles and users’ posts regarding the subject. The mobile version features top five highlights from LinkedIn News which seemed to vary based on if it is a weekday or weekend. On average, weekday news would showcase three to four highlights on politics, finance, regional updates, and science/health. In contrast, weekend content would primarily consist of personal-centred insights.

North American workdays usually fall on the five weekdays, leading up to the weekend as a unit of time detached from one’s job. Weekends represent personal leisure time which can be spent with family, friends, or as down-time that is often looked forward to as a break in the work week. Despite this conception of the weekend as off hours, top stories on Saturdays and Sundays would correspond to both work and personal life, including “Recharging after networking” (Seaman 2020), “Make time for work friends,” (Morrin 2020) and “When you’ve lost your steam at work” (Olster 2020). I initially thought these articles would advocate a balanced lifestyle that separates one’s job and time off, but instead, there is a blurring of professional and private spheres. All three articles not only use language to inspire a continuation of work but provide tips on professional development with motivational strategies to “be real” (Brower 2020), a notion associated with authenticity that is unmediated by work. 

In a conversation about unhealthy, capitalist notions of productivity during quarantine, interviewee Manda mentioned that she felt looming pressure to be productive on LinkedIn when seeing users’ posts on accomplishments or ‘personal’ insights. Manda’s observations resonate with a weekend’s Top Headline, “Why to-do lists kill productivity” (Spaven 2020), discussing the need for breaks to recharge and return to work — emphasis on returning to work. LinkedIn News outlines when and what kind of information should be consumed. This regimen reinforces a constant survey of work-related performance, integrating professional life into leisure time.


Brower, Tracy. 2020. “Exhausted By Networking: 7 Ways To Keep Going In Your Job Search.”

Forbes, Sep 27, 2020.

Morrin, Siobhan. 2020. “Make time for work friends.” LinkedIn News, Sept., 2020.

Olster Scott. 2020. “When you’ve lost your steam at work.” LinkedIn News, Sept., 2020.

Seaman, Andrew. 2020. “Recharging after networking.” LinkedIn News, Sept., 2020.

Spaven, Emily. 2020. “Why to-do lists kill productivity.” LinkedIn News, Oct. 17, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s