I am an Assistant Professor in Film/TV/Media and affiliate faculty at the Digital Studies Institute.
I study media as they emerge and stabilize as popular social practices in historically specific moments. I am interested in how media and technologies foster recognition, vitality, and livelihood, and how they don’t. Like many, I want to know what it means to be alive, aware, and vital in this postdigital age. This means I focus on media cultures that produce care, intimacy, dignity, and a sense of being known. I research and teach about things like startup culture and consumer technologies; how liaisons between tech culture and publics direct social use; how technologies complicate cultural crises; how mundane digital media practices make everyday life more comfortable (for some); and, how media makers and users negotiate periods of change.
Much of my work is historiographic, which means I’m focused on reassessing a medium or technology in its contextualized period of newness. To do this, I draw on scholarship in digital histories, media industry studies, cultural studies, science and technology studies, software and platform studies, and communication philosophy. My published research includes work on: how apps structure and are structured by our everyday; how independent podcasters grew a mobile, intimate medium; how early radio was an embodied technology; and, how we might theorize a postdigital conjuncture. Here are some current projects I’m working on and some ideas on my mind:
Artificial intelligence has become ordinary, yet Americans still don’t fully understand it. These seem like contradictory statements. How do we come to accept as ordinary something we may not fully understand? My book project, Making Sense of Smart: A Prehistory of Everyday A.I., argues the groundwork was laid long ago for A.I.-supported daily life. It developed through a century of defining the relationship between bodies and machines as a smart fit. Today, A.I.’s central tenets are embedded in everything from streaming television to managing traffic patterns. But the material and affective outcomes of ‘everyday A.I.’ – recognition, convenience, and control – predate A.I. as we know it; indeed, they are qualities that have always been promised at the intersection of artificial + intelligence. The book identifies key moments in recent history when artificial and intelligence are articulated to certain bodies and machines in new configurations. Smart has been, in different decades, the fastening of women, machinery, and the workplace (1920s); the weaving of science into the home (1950s); and, the newly mobile and physically fit body of the 1980s. Taken together, these moments offer a prehistory for pervasive digital mediation and its tendency to privilege white, middle-class bodies.