Activity & Discussion: 15 Minutes of Fame

Credits Ali Ravi, Daniel O’Clunaigh, and Samir Nassar Last Updated 2014-03

This exercise helps illustrate to participants just how much information about an individual can be found online - especially if we publicly share it ourselves.

ADIDS Element

Activity and Discussion

Parent Topic(s)

Social Media Safety Awareness


30-45 minutes

Materials to Prepare

  • 1 business card (or basic identifying information) from a willing participant.
  • Alternatively: Give the class a card with a name and an email address.
  • Internet connection robust enough for all participants to be able to browse online simultaneously.
  • A whiteboard or flipchart board and markers.

Running the Activity

Step 1: Introduction

“15 minutes of fame” is the term used to describe short-lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon. The expression was coined by Andy Warhol, who said in 1968 that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

The phenomenon is often used in reference to figures in the entertainment industry or other areas of popular culture, such as reality television and YouTube. It also serves as a fitting metaphor for how information about us can be shared or spread online - whether we realize it or not!

Step 2: Setting the Scene

From among the participants, ask for one volunteer to have their “15 minutes of fame” - introduce this person to the group, or have them introduce themselves, either way providing only their name and email address.

  • Group the trainees into small groups between 2-6 people each.
  • Tell the groups they have 15 minutes to research the volunteer, using any resource on the Internet.
  • Remember: they only have the person’s name and email address to use!

Step 3: Sharing the Details

After 15 minutes have passed, have the groups stop researching. Go around the groups and ask each to share all of the details about the volunteer that they were able to find.

  • Write up the details solicited from the groups on the whiteboard / flipchart.
  • Declare a winner! (Based on who had the most information).

Ask the different participants what they thought about the process; how they felt about searching for information.

  • Ask the volunteer how it felt to have this information searched and found by these strangers.
  • Go back to the participants and ask them to note where the information they found came from.

If the volunteer is in the room, or known well enough by one of the trainers, extend the competitiveness of the activity by rating the accuracy of the information found by the small groups.

Leading the Discussion

Going from the end of the activity, and the questions asked to participants, segue directly into leading the discussion.

Discuss how easy it can be to find information online.

Ask the group to share examples of information sources they used:

  • Was there any false information?
  • Was there any ambiguous information?
  • How can we protect ourselves from having too much information available about us on the internet?
  • If someone wanted to find out information about you, who would they need to ask to get it?