Archer, JE. (2018). Dr. da Vinci: The Reshaping of Surgical Touch. Workshop CHI 2018, Reshaping Touch Communication: An Interdisciplinary Research Agenda.

Science and technology have long played a role in shaping touch communication. Touch has typically been
conceptualized as natural and purely physical in human-computer interaction and other fields, which denies the social, cultural, and political implications of touch and technology that reshapes touch. To push against this orientation my research explores the socio-material shaping of touch and technology by using approaches from Communication and Media Studies. The current research focuses on the introduction of a surgical robotic assistant, da Vinci, because it provides a compelling case study to think through the way touch communication is in the process of being reshaped in medical settings. The relationship between healing, trust, and touch in the medical field has a fraught history with the introduction of new instruments which have further mediated tactile interaction between doctors and patients. What happens to that relationship when the touch of your surgeon becomes the touch of a robot?

Parisi, D. & Archer, JE. (2017). Making analog: A manifesto on the prospects and perils of a haptic media studies. New Media & Society.

In this article, we argue for the urgency of establishing a coherent tradition of haptic media studies, suggesting that the fields of visual culture studies and sound studies provide analogs, however imperfect, for modeling a new touch-oriented approach to media. This call to make touch like the senses of seeing and hearing echoes previous movements in touch’s discursive and institutional history, as investigators in prior generations similarly aspired to transform tactility through the development of new institutionally grounded research programs. Furthermore, we outline one possible genealogy of haptic media that attends specifically to the power relations expressed through the technoscientific harnessing of touch by haptics. We close with a programmatic set of suggestions for operationalizing haptic media studies.

Parisi, D. Paterson, M. & Archer, JE. (2017). Haptic media studies. New Media & Society.

Bassett, N. & Archer, JE. (2017). “Enjoy your feeling:” A media archeology of material publics. Communication and the Public.

Ubiquitous technology depends upon imposing standards. Choices in function and form reflect the homogenization of artifacts, necessitated by the intentions of experts to satisfy a plurality of users. In material publics, users with expert knowledge can develop customized artifacts satisfying desired affordances or aesthetics. This project involves a media archeology of computer keyboard design to explore the relationship between experts, publics, and the creation of these artifacts. Participation in these communities and study of enthusiast records result in a public-expert knowledge. The importance granted to minutia of design, from the choice of plastics to spring tensioning, parallels new form factors that reflect highly personalized choices. These reassert user control over the materiality of an otherwise ubiquitous and mundane mediating artifact. Publics then create a new political materiality by recomposing artifacts beyond what commercial expertise prescribes.

Novak, J.S., Archer, J., Mateevitsi, V., Jones, S. (2016). Communication, Machines, and Human Augmentics. Communication+1.

This essay reformulates the question of human augmentation as a problem of advanced human-machine communication, theorizing that such communication implies robust artificial intelligence and necessitates understanding the relational role new technologies play in human-machine communication. We focus on the questions, “When do electronic tools cease to be ‘simply’ tools, and become meaningfully part of ourselves,” and, “When might we think of these tools as augmenting our selves, rather than simply amplifying our capabilities?” These questions, already important to the medical and rehabilitative fields, loom larger with increasing commodification of pervasive augmentation technologies, and indicate the verge on which human-machine communication now finds itself. Through analyses of human and machine agency, mediated through a theory of close human-machine communication, we argue that the critical element in discussions of human-machine communication is an increase in sense of agency, extending the traditional human-computer interface dictum to provide an internal locus of control.