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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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About the Author


John A. McArthur is an associate professor in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. He currently serves as director of graduate programs and was instrumental in developing the $5.75 million grant awarded to the school by the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation in 2010. He previously served as director of undergraduate programs in the school and has worked with faculty university-wide as the director of online faculty services, a faculty development role promoting successful teaching and learning in online and hybrid environments.

Dr. McArthur received his Ph.D. in rhetorics, communication, and information design from Clemson University. His research and teaching focuses on proxemics (the use of space) and information design with a particular interest in the ways that digital technology influences our interactions with spaces. His studies have applied information design theories to examine both built and digital spaces—urban settings, chat rooms, memorials, public art, classroom designs, and campus architecture. Some of his research also focuses on the relationships among spaces of learning, technology, and successful instructional practice. His research can be found in journals ranging from the Journal of ← 203 | 204 →Communication Inquiry, Communication Teacher, and the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, to the American Clearinghouse of Educational Facilities Journal, Journal of Library Innovation, and the Journal of Learning Spaces.

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