"Wifi will be turned off between 12-3 due to lunchtime rush" - sign on the till at Store St Espresso, London

“Wifi will be turned off between 12-3 due to lunchtime rush” – sign on the till at Store St Espresso, London

Coffee and Wifi is was the project blog of my MA dissertation. It’s now a blog about research. I still love coffee and I spend a lot of time using free wifi in cafes so the domain name still fits.


Hi, I’m Jess Perriam and I’m fascinated by how people use technology in everyday life and how this changes the way we relate to one another. And by everyday life, I mean the little, mundane parts of your day that you rarely give a second thought to.

I’m currently part of the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I’m doing a PhD about photography of everyday life for publication on social media – basically I’m exploring why we feel the need to photograph everyday life (our coffee, our kids, our commute, to name just a few examples) to share with others where previously we hadn’t.

I gained an MA Digital Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London in the 2012/13 cohort, my final project and dissertation was Coffee and Wifi, which explored how free wifi provision changed the sociality of independent cafes. 

My research interests include: ethnography, social network analysis, creative qualitative research methods, sociology and design, faith and technology, sociology of everyday life, actor network theory and presentation of self in everyday life.

My professional interests include: user research, information architecture, research in tech design. I have experience working in government and education sectors.

I often talk about my research with community groups, academic workshops and in media interviews.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more about my current research on visual social media or my recent work on coffee and wifi.

About the project

The role of the cafe in digital life has changed markedly in the past decade. Where previously we saw dedicated internet cafes full of desktop computers on the high street, we now see independent and mainstream cafes full of freelancers, students and other workers on laptops, tablets and mobile devices, connecting via wifi.

The research:

  • examined the existing dynamics of traditional cafe culture via literature review.
  • used ethnographic and creative qualitative research methods to determine how the ubiquity of wifi has disrupted traditional cafe culture and shaped a new culture.
  • examined current discourse around wifi in cafes on Twitter, FourSquare and other platforms, using quantitative digital social research methods.

Jess’ project examined how the use of wifi in cafés changes the dynamic of social groups and settings. She used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to explore this topic further.

These methods included:

  • Ethnography
  • interviews in cafe settings
  • Social network analysis
  • Discourse analysis

Jess was supervised by  Dr Nina Wakeford from the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London and thanks her for her valuable support.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>