I am proud to say I will be presenting a paper on “Playing Dead: Disconnection and the Technological Uncanny” in November at National Communication Association’s 2018 meeting in November, in the Philosophy of Communication Division. I will also be chairing a panel regarding “Perspectives on Non-use” (described below).
The inspiration for my paper comes research I’ve been doing on the notion of an “uncanny” as a contrast to the “technological sublime.” Using a Hiedeggarian phenomenology, how can we explain the reaction we have towards certain forms of technology which are unsettling, or “un-home-like”? Expanding the notion of the “uncanny valley” into a type of aesthetic found in lived experience, I will discuss how we find uncanniness in parts of our lifeworld where we are supposed to take technology for granted. The constant “on-ness” of the internet, surveillance, and other unfamiliar aspects of technology lead to a turning away, or a sein-zum-tode, a “being-towards-death” in which authenticity is pursued by disconnecting. When we go offline, do we cease to exist? Similarily, consider Avicenna’s “floating man,” but floating in a sensory deprevation chamber, where they have no sense of the outside world, to say nothing of the latest tweets, posts, news items, etc. The uncanniness of our lifeworld and our anxiety towards Das Men (verbunden) (connected) explains the complicated state of going “off-line” when that is increasingly nowhere.
Full paper here: NCA_Uncanny
I will also be chairing a panel titled “Perspectives on Non-use: Playing Both Sides of the Digital Divide” with James Katz of Boston University, Cameron Wade Piercy of the University of Kansas, Song Shi of McGill University, Hsin-yi Sandy Tsai of National Chiao Tung University as well as Priya Shah and Sean McEwan, who are also students at University of Illinois at Chicago. This panel was submitted to the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide. I really look forward to our conversation, which will surround the question “How does discourse about the digital divide rest on assumptions or expectations for society?”