review of 2015

Yes, it’s that time of year when we pretend to have an awards ceremony to mark what’s happened with our website – and the work that spins through and out of it – over the past 12 months. It’s a way of thanking all of our contributors and shoppers, to show how you have helped to shape what is becoming. Highlights and top 10s of 2015? Here they are:



  • was the year that we welcomed out 100,000th shopper, our 300,000th page view and our 194th country in which our online shoppers are based;
  • saw the publication of the first academic paper explaining how was made, with whom, and what it is designed to do in the world (see p.23 on here, in French);
  • saw the publication of a film in which our CEO Ian Cook explains why many of our pages contain scenes made in LEGO;
  • saw new collaborative research with artists Neville and Joan Gabie on Dust (part of the Bideford Black project), and with artist Paula Crutchlow and others on the Museum of Contemporary Commodities;
  • saw a closer involvement in the Fashion Revolution movement after CEO Ian’s appointment as its Global Education and Resources lead, and his co-authoring of the movement’s free ‘who made my clothes?’ education resources (register here) and first bookHow to be a fashion revolutionary;
  • and saw the much-needed expansion of our classroom resources page, including resources and stories of thing-following pedagogies from primary school to university classrooms.

Top 10s:

Here we go [drum roll]…

Top 10 shopping countries (c/w 2014)

Thanks to all of our shoppers around the world. We have had visits from 194 countries so far. Our top ten is largely unchanged from 2014, with the notable exception of Switzerland – up 15 places – where CEO Ian toured in December. We’d love to hear from our shoppers around the world. How did you come across our website? How are you making use if it?

  1. USA – 12,070 sessions (=)
  2. UK – 11,689 sessions (=)
  3. Canada – 2,151 sessions (=)
  4. Australia – 1,366 sessions (+1)
  5. India – 911 sessions (+2)
  6. Germany – 805 sessions (-2)
  7. Switzerland – 634 sessions (+15)
  8. Netherlands – 485 sessions (=)
  9. Singapore – 446 sessions (+4)
  10. France – 382 sessions (-4)

Most viewed compilation page in 2015

Compilation pages are the ones which contain carefully selected quotes from conversations found online, which are then arranged to resemble a conversation about the example being showcased on that page. They’re the pages where you learn how a film, stunt or other sources has been described, made and discussed and what impacts it is said to have had on the world. Congratulations to former Exeter University students Emma Baker, Eleanor Bird, Gemma Crease, Imogen Crookes and Coralie Sucker for their chart-topping compilation work.

  1. Where am I wearing? – 3,486 views
  2. Sweetness and Power – 3,194 views
  3. How Sushi Went Global – 2,738 views
  4. China Blue – 1,744 views
  5. Follow the thing: papaya – 1,631 views
  6. Mardi Gras: Made in China – 1,339 views
  7. Jamelia: whose hair is it anyway – 1,036 views
  8. Cries for help found in Primark clothes (a.k.a. ‘labelgate’) – 798 views
  9. Tangled Routes – 704 views
  10. Bananas!* – 691 views

Most viewed Original Work page in 2015

Here we list the most viewed original work produced for publication on All have been produced by University of Exeter and University of Birmingham students taking the module that’s behind our site and/or alumni of that module who have been employed as interns. They illustrate our ethos of providing information and inspiration for those wanting to make new follow the thing scholar activist work. Congratulations to former Exeter University student and intern Charlotte Brunton for her magnificent chart-topping work.

  1. University lifestyle catalogue – 1,064 views
  2. The fruits of our labour: an avocado’s story – 734 views
  3. Ballet shoes – 565 views
  4. Kidney trade – 439 views
  5. Chewing gum – 386 views
  6. Fazer ‘Blue’ chocolate Cocoa School campaign
  7. Our new commemorative £2 coin – 372 views
  8. Barracetamol’s family reunion – 331 views
  9. The pill (a.k.a. a female issue) – 293 views
  10. Made in Cambodia – 235 views

Page looked at the longest in 2015

Many of our pages may have been briefly glanced at, skim-read, or printed out quickly for later reading. These pages, however, were the ones that our shoppers lingered longest over this year. Congratulations to former Brown University students Aparupa Chakravarti and Jeff Bauer for compiling the slow burning success of our No.1 page this year.

  1. Darwin’s Nightmare – 5 minutes 6 seconds
  2. The Oil Road – 4 minutes 51 seconds
  3. Ilha das Flores – 4 minutes 49 seconds
  4. Where am I wearing? – 4 minutes 47 seconds
  5. The Box – 4 minutes 33 seconds
  6. How Sushi Went Global – 4 minutes 33 seconds
  7. Santa’s workshop: inside China’s slave labour toy factories – 4 minutes 18 seconds
  8. New balls please – 4 minutes 11 seconds
  9. Sweetness and Power – four minutes 10 seconds
  10. Simpson’s couch gag (series 22, episode 3) – 4 minutes and 8 seconds

Most viewed posts and pages

Our blog is the place where we publish extras from the project. These were our most popular posts and pages in 2015, ones that showcase our teaching resources, work that we have done with school students and teachers, and post outlining emerging themes from our research. Thanks to teaching legend Alan Parkinson for helping us to create the chart-topping page this year.

  1. Classroom resources – 421 views
  2. Guest blog | Milkybar buttons & child slavery: primary children write to Nestle – 212 views
  3. The 13 best examples of shop-dropping… ever – 139 views
  4. Happy ‘shopping’: making & using bags – 139 views
  5. Political LEGO: an interview with Legofesto – 125 views
  6. Exeter students understand the financial crisis through ‘making money’ – 108 views
  7. Guest blog | Hannah asks her students ‘Who are you wearing?’ – 96 views
  8. How to make & play Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Ethics Trump card game – 92 views
  9. Defining the ‘living wage’ bananas* want farmers to be paid – 85 views
  10. Reading lists – 82 views

Most viewed LEGO re-creation of all time

We have been making ‘political LEGO’ scenes for a number of years now. They’re intended to capture more than words can the drama of ‘follow the things’ work. Many have been added to pages on our site to liven them up, and all are available for you to borrow and adapt on Flickr with creative commons licenses. These are our most popular of all time. Congratulations to former Exeter University student, intern and LEGO maestro Eeva Kempainnen for creating a scene that’s more popular than the Simpsons!

  1. Teaching controversial issues – 29,226 views
  2. It starts like a normal episode of The Simpsons… – 11,688 views
  3. Made in Dagenham: ‘We want sex (equality)’ – 10,355 views
  4. Primark on the rack 2013 (part 2): an impossible PR challenge – 9,560 views
  5. Primark on the rack 2013 (part 1): the Rana Plaza collapse – 5,871 views
  6. Valentine’s Day 2: Kanye West’s “Diamonds are from Sierra Leone’ – 5,699 views
  7. A candid shot from the iPhone production line – 5,412 views
  8. 2001: ‘Contagious Media was the reason I was sitting on [the Today Show] couch with Katie Couric…’ (part 2 of 3) – 5,410 views
  9. Primark on the rack 2013 (part 4): compensation – 5,124 views
  10. Ship-spotting the BBC Box at the Port of Los Angeles – 4,856 views


We wish everyone a prosperous and peaceful 2016 and look forward to more shared shopping (in both sense of the word) experiences. We have many more pages to publish, more work to do.

Very best wishes

Ian et al


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