Category Archives: Media, Technology & Society
I was privileged to present a paper – “Digital Cities: Urban community development through information design” – at the annual conference of the National Communication Association in Orlando, Florida.
The paper is an extension of my work on space, technology, and user-experience. The theoretical argument sits at the intersection of information design, city planning, and placemaking. The presentation slides and examples of case studies are included below:
At the 2012 National Communication Association annual convention, researchers from around the country shared their work in a panel titled ”Intersections in Nonverbal and Health Communication.” I was drawn to the panel because most of the papers incorporated some kind of communication technology either in the research design or the methodology. Here’s a quick recap of the presentations:
Chronemics in Health Communication
Ashley Barrett and Dawna Ballard, University of Texas-Austin
This paper raises the issues between Electronic Health Record (EHR) Implementation and the stability of the doctor-patient exchange. How does the presence of a computer in a medical interview impact doctor-patient communication? Early findings suggest that, well, it depends. Computers detract from eye contact and doctor observations of nonverbal communication. Its presence in the patient meeting reduces relational tasks (vs. information tasks) and disrupts the temporal order of the conversation. Early research finds that doctors are resistant to EHR implementation, but not for the nonverbal reasons mentioned here.
Nonverbal Narratives in Health Communication Interventions
Peter Andersen, San Diego State University
Andersen and his team have been developing narrative-based emotional communication artifacts to encourage healthy behavior (like wearing sunscreen). “Narratives eliminate argument,” says Andersen. “It’s hard to argue with a story.” The team’s grant-funded work has been primarily with sunscreen advocacy on ski slopes, though it has potential to be applied to behavioral issues across health (and other) fields.
Autism Self-Advocacy on YouTube
Jessica Hughes, University of Colorado-Boulder
Hughes studies videos representing “neurodiversity” and disability rights, specifically through the communicative autistic nonverbal communication presented in I Stim, Therefore I Am (Yergeau, 2012) and In my language (Baggs, 2007). Because nonverbal communication is grounded in ”neurotypical” patterns, engaging with phenomenological study of autistic communication leads to this question: can nonverbal communication attend to the levels of experience of neurodiversity? Whether or not it can, at the least, Hughes makes stronger the case the YouTube has the power to advance all voices.
Nonverbal Behaviors during Expressions of Resistance to Diet and Nutrition Changes: An Analysis of Videotaped Provider-Patient Interactions
Ashley Duggan, Boston College and Ylisabyth Bradshaw, Tufts University
Resistance to lifestyle changes may be well-predicted by nonverbal communication patterns, such as slouching, eye contact avoidance, closed behavior, negative tone of voice, contempt, inconsistency between verbal and nonverbal, compensation behavior, heavy sighing, self-adaptors (like self-touching). Using StudioCode to assess video observations, Duggan and Bradshaw have invested in the power of video-based observations. On the issue of nonverbal expressions of resistance, the team says, “The behaviors were far less subtle than we anticipated.”
Creating Community without Words
Cindy Larson-Casselton, Concordia College
In Dr. Larson-Casselton’s nonverbal communication courses, students are paired with an Alzheimer’s patient or stroke victim. Working with these almost-entirely nonverbal populations grounds student learning in a service learning component with high levels of relational training. (Note: students, facility, and families of patients all work together for a successful relationship and learning experience that honors the patients).
The following article was featured on
the Social Media Club’s national Social Media Education blog
on Election Day, November 6, 2012:
If you’re like me, your friends on Facebook have been talking about the election.
I’m friends with supporters of President Obama and Governor Romney, and even a few who are advocating for Governor Johnson. But, I’ve been surprised by the variety of Facebook arguments that I’ve witnessed in the weeks leading up to the election. Most are heated debates championed by friends of friends who write passionately and with varying levels of grammatical prowess.
In my courses in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, we’ve been discussing the role of Facebook as a gathering spot – not necessarily of like-minded individuals, but rather of friends, acquaintances, and peers. In our discussions, I’ve been thinking about the role of Facebook as a space.
Some argue that Facebook is a podium for expressing opinions. They liken it to a microphone that can be turned up to share ideas with people, or to try to persuade anyone who will listen. Thereby, users on Facebook could and should advocate for selected issues.
Others believe that Facebook is a dinner table around which friends are invited to gather. These folks suggest that dinner table conversations should avoid politics, sex, and money. Therefore, the socially aware Facebook user would refrain from discussing these topics.
Still others might argue that Facebook shouldn’t look like an podium or a dinner table, but something else all together.
As educators who are researching, reflecting on, and teaching about social media use, perhaps our job is to ask others to do the same. To pause. To reflect. To consider the messages we send, when we choose to use social media, and for what purpose. Our role is to lead the discussion about the power of social media and to harness that power for the good.
I’m happy to report that the banter on Facebook on Election day appears to have changed. My friends and acquaintances are posting pictures of their “I Voted” stickers. This kind of civic encouragement might demonstrate the actual power of the platform: to encourage each other to act as citizens.
John A. McArthur is an assistant professor of communication in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Connect with him online athttp://jamcarthur.com or on Twitter @JAMcArthur
When was the last time you got lost?
Self-proclaimed “indoor map nerd” Nick Such wants to come to the rescue. “People getting lost in buildings is a problem we can solve,” says Such, CEO of BuildingLayer and founder of Awesome Inc. As CEO of BuildingLayer, much of his current work focuses on indoor mapping of built spaces.
Maps are typically created through either surveying, GPS, and imagery (or a combination of the three). None of these things work for mapping interior spaces of building. To make indoor maps, CAD drawings are used and then geo-located (on a satellite or GPS map) to position the building on the site (see an overview of available indoor mapping and positioning tools).
But indoor maps can be used for much more than providing directions. In a healthcare scenario, an indoor map could geolocate services and service providers, tracking treatment by patient and room. For first responders, indoor mapping could give firefighters and rescue personnel navigating built environments.
Indoor maps will not be something we look at, but rather something we experience. The development of crowdsourced indoor maps will allow us to complete a complete digital replica of our physical world.
Whether you were once BFFs, Facebook friends, more-than friends, or friends of friends, unfriending someone leaves a record – a history.
My family and I were strolling through a park a few weeks ago and sat on a bench swing. Bench swings, trees, and fence posts have a rich history of serving as markers. People throughout the world use these public spaces as places of memory. Carvings in tree trunks speak of first loves, fence posts bear the artifacts of couples who plan to return, and benches become places to invest in relationships.
While we were swinging in the park, the post of the swing caught my eye:
The first thing I noticed was the immediate attempt these friends made to be sure they had the correct date on their
vandalism inscription. I can appreciate that. I’m all for accuracy.
But then I noticed that either Anabella or her BFF had returned to the swing – to commit an unfriending. At some point after 6/24/11, one of the girls scratched out the name of the friend and left only Anabella’s name on the post.
The key marks on the post are a physical reminder of the relationship lost. They shared with me a sense of hurt feelings, or even anger. One of the girls felt so strongly about the end of the friendship, that she took the time to return to the inscription and blot out a memory.
I started to wonder about the act of losing a friend, and my thoughts immediately turned digital. How does unfriending surface in a digital age?
We inscribe our friendships on the walls of Facebook. These walls are as public as the post of a bench swing, and can be just as revealing.
A quick Google search reveals that one of the biggest questions asked in digital etiquette might be about the rules of unfriending. When is it okay to unfriend someone? Will they know? How can I unfriend them without letting them know I unfriended them? Here’s Facebook’s response:
Even without virtual key scratches, the remnants left behind in the digital space signal the dissolution of a relationship. The absence of a name in a friend list or the dissappearance of a familiar face from the news feed are tangible reminders of the friendship lost.
But the digital marks do not stop there.
Facebook users can request records of their friends who have quietly committed unfriendings. Applications like “Unfriend Finder” and “Who Unfriended Me” (and other similarly named things) can tell a person who has unfriended them and when. Some will send alerts to a mobile phone or pop-up alerts on a computer.
Friendships are tricky things in the digital world and the physical one. In both spaces, the marks of unfriending are clear.
Have a good unfriending story? Feel free to share it here.
On the topic of teaching with technology, I wrote this in 2007 (published in 2009):
As “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) enter the classroom, instructors must engage these students and expand their burgeoning and often technologically nuanced skills. The incorporation of technologies into classroom instruction challenges students and instructors alike; but, this challenge is both a necessary and exciting one (Okojie & Olinzock, 2006). Instructors must initiate this challenge by designing activities which both complement course subject matter and engage students with a variety of media. (McArthur, 2009)
When I think about my classroom-based experiments with podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, and other tools, I have to remember that new technologies abound. So, I’m reinvesting in this entrepreneurial spirit and experimenting with Pinterest in the classroom.
If you have any tips for teaching with Pinterest, let me know. More to come this fall…
- Composing Podcasts: Engaging ‘digital natives’ in the communication classroom (2009). Communication Teacher, 23 (1), 15-18.
- Okojie, M.C. & Olinzack, A. (2006). Developing a Positive Mind-set Toward the Use of Technology for Classroom Instruction. International Journal of Instructional Media, 33(1), pp. 33-41.
- Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).
Our Community 2.0 project is starting to generate some attention, and I was honored to be invited to share my work in the Digital Speaker Series hosted by American City Business Journals in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. Here is the slide deck from the presentation, which focused on applying design thinking to the issues of our professional work:
“Thanks for 100 years, Greenville.”
A centennial celebration serves as the foundation for a digital scavenger hunt like no other. On the occassion of its 100th anniversary, Greenville Hospital System (GHS) is chronicling its history through a summer-long event that combines digital technology and community.
From May 4-August 11, 2012, GHS’s Go-Hunt-Scan invites participants to find and scan 100 QR-codes hidden around Greenville, South Carolina. Each scan enters the player to win an assortment of prizes, including a 2012 Chevy Sonic.
And, each scan teaches the player something about the hospital’s shared history with the community of Greenville. Registering for the game affords the player a list of the locations of the 100 codes. Some are hidden in county landmarks like the Greenville Drive’s Fluor Field and the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, while others are only available at events, like the Swamp Rabbit 5K and the Saturday Downtown Market. Others can be found at sponsored locations and many are inside practices and offices affiliated with Greenville Hospital System’s vast network.
I found my first code at the Metropolitan Arts Council office on Augusta Street in Greenville’s downtown:
I’m looking forward to discovering more about health care in my community over the next few months. But, I’m really interested to see how the hunt operates in hopes that more communities can connect community learning with mobile technology.
Full rules and ways to enter can be found at the Go-Hunt-Scan website, or by scanning the QR-code above.