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CM Seminar: Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking (Again) How We Approach Technology Use & Design

Speaker Name: 
Andrea Guzman
Speaker Title: 
Assistant Professor, Communication
Speaker Organization: 
Northern Illinois University
Start Time: 
Monday, May 10, 2021 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, May 10, 2021 - 1:05pm
Via Zoom Presentation
Sri Kurniawan


For decades, the predominant conceptualization of technology by the engineers designing it was that of a tool. The goal in designing a device’s interface was to facilitate its use. The emergence of critical/cultural approaches to the study and design of technology have offered a different view of technology, its development, and its use, one in which cultural values are seen as embedded within technology and enacted within its use and within which a technology’s meaning is not fixed, but emergent. In this talk, I focus on this construction of the meaning of technology between “user” and device within the context of social machines, such as digital assistants and robots, drawing on theory in Human-Machine Communication (HMC), an emerging area of communication research. Historically, communication has been theorized as a human-based activity facilitated by machines. HMC challenges this prevailing paradigm within the study of communication by theorizing machines as communicators. Technology is not something we talk through or talk too, it is something we communicate with. I argue that it is in and through our communication with devices that we create meaning with machines, and I explain the implications for not only how we understand technology but also how we see ourselves. I conclude by discussing how such a reconceptualization of technology and its use, as well as how we theorize communication, can inform the design and study of technology.


Andrea L. Guzman is an assistant professor of communication at Northern Illinois University and co-director of The Human-Machine Communication Lab at NIU. Her research focuses on HMC theory and people’s perceptions of artificial intelligence, including voice-based assistants and automated news-writing programs. Guzman is editor of Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking Communication, Technology, and Ourselves and co-editor of the forthcoming, The SAGE Handbook of Human-Machine Communication. Guzman’s award- winning research has been published in top journals, including New Media & Society, Computers in Human Behavior, Digital Journalism, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and has been presented at leading interdisciplinary and disciplinary conferences. Guzman is currently the inaugural chair of the Human-Machine Communication Interest Group of the International Communication Association.

The Zoom access link and passcode are:
Passcode: 5102021

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