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Digital Proxemics

How Technology Shapes the Ways We Move


John A. McArthur

The study of proxemics – the human use of space – is reimagined for the digital age in this book, a compelling examination of the future of the ways we move. Whereas much writing on the subject focuses on what digital technology might do for us, this book explores what the same technology might do to us.
Combining dynamic stories, cutting-edge research, and deep reflection on the role of space in our lives, Digital Proxemics examines the ways that our uses of physical and digital spaces and our uses of technology are converging. It investigates the role of digital communication in proxemics, offering explorations of the ways digital technology shapes our personal bodily movement, our interpersonal negotiation of social space, and our navigation of public spaces and places. Through the lens of information and user-experience design, it adds forbidden spaces, ubicomp, augmented reality, digital surveillance, and virtual reality to the growing lexicon surrounding proxemics. The result is a spatial turn in the study of digital technology and a digital turn in the study of proxemics.
As our culture changes, our ability to make choices about how to move will be called into question, as will our expectations for what roles technology will play in our lives. As we navigate this intersection, Digital Proxemics is at once a valuable lens through which we can view our shifting culture, a cautionary tale through which we might envision problematic outcomes, and an optimistic projection of possibility for the future of human communication and technology interaction.
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When I started this book, I was new to the book publishing process. I’m still new, but I am grateful to have had much support along the way. Dr. Andy Billings, ever the friend, mentor, and academic standard-bearer, guided me toward multiple paths to pursue. I continue to be grateful that our lives intertwined at Clemson. Vanessa Domine, Mohammed el-Nawawy, and Nancy Clare Morgan clarified early questions about the publishing process for me. Mary Savigar helped me navigate the intersection of my interests with the needs of the academic community. Sophie Appel designed the striking cover art and Bernie Shade led me through the design phases. Digital Formations editor Steve Jones provided counsel and feedback.

Several colleagues and friends in my personal learning network volunteered to read chapters of this book as I wrote them. They have offered me advice, suggested new lines of thought, and helped me clarify ideas and approaches to the information presented. Thank you to Dr. Zachary White, Professor Ashley Fitch Blair, and Dr. Corinne Weisgerber. Other colleagues remain anonymous reviewers of papers I’ve submitted to a variety of journals and conferences on the topics herein. Still others have responded to the blog posts, tweets, social media updates, and chats that have served as drafts of these ideas. They have all improved the book in countless ways and helped ← xiii | xiv →seek out new facts, fresh ideas, and innovative concepts. The errors that persist in the book are all mine.

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