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Human-Machine Communication

Rethinking Communication, Technology, and Ourselves


Edited By Andrea L. Guzman

From virtual assistants to social robots, people are increasingly interacting with intelligent and highly communicative technologies throughout their daily lives. This shift from communicating with people to communicating with people and machines challenges how scholars have theorized and studied communication. Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking Communication, Technology, and Ourselves addresses this transition in how people communicate and who, or what, they communicate with and the implications of this evolution for communication research. Geared toward scholars interested in people’s interactions with technology, this book serves as an introduction to human-machine communication (HMC) as a specific area of study within communication (encompassing human-computer interaction, human-robot interaction, and human-agent interaction) and to the research possibilities of HMC. This collection includes papers presented as part of a scholarly conference on HMC, along with invited works from noted researchers. Topics include defining HMC, theoretical approaches to HMC, applications of HMC, and the larger implications of HMC for self and society. The research presented here focuses on people’s interactions with multiple technologies (artificial intelligence, algorithms, and robots) used within different contexts (home, workplace, education, journalism, and healthcare) from a variety of epistemological and methodological approaches (empirical, rhetorical, and critical/cultural). Overall, Human-Machine Communication provides readers with an understanding of HMC in a way that supports and promotes further scholarly inquiry in a growing area of communication research.

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5. Presence Past and Future: Reflections on 25 Years of Presence Technology, Scholarship, and Community (Matthew Lombard)


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5. Presence Past and Future: Reflections on 25 Years of Presence Technology, Scholarship, and Community


Since conducting research (including my dissertation) at Stanford University in the early 1990s, through 25 years as a professor, and since 2002 as president of the International Society for Presence Research (ISPR;, I’ve been fascinated by the concept and phenomena of telepresence, usually referred to simply as presence. Although it has been defined in (too) many ways, ISPR (2000) defines presence as

a psychological state or subjective perception in which even though part or all of an individual’s current experience is generated by and/or filtered through human-made technology, part or all of the individual’s perception fails to accurately acknowledge the role of the technology in the experience.

Basically, even though we know we’re using a technology, at some level we ignore that and just experience the people, places and events the technologies provide.

Presence experiences are very common. When we become emotionally involved in the lives of fictional characters in (even cliché filled) novels, television programs and movies; when we spend hours navigating environments, accomplishing tasks and competing against computer-generated avatars of other people or fictional characters in videogames and virtual worlds; when we enter the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and feel immersed in a fictional world; when we enjoy...

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