Publications

Books, articles, and reports published by Digital Life Institute members.

Writing to Learn in Teams: A Collaborative Writing Playbook for Students Across the Curriculum

Joe Moses and Jason Tham

Book: Informed by years of the authors’ teaching experience as well as thorough research on teamwork across multiple settings, this guide effectively brings together the practical, psychosocial, and pedagogical elements of collaboration and collaborative writing. Beautifully designed and appealingly readable, it is the finest and most comprehensive interdisciplinary text on this subject.

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The Big Rhetorical Podcast (Keynote Episode)

Isabel Pedersen

Podcast: Isabel Pedersen was the keynote speaker in this event. This podcast is a wide-ranging conversation about the current status of Artificial Intelligence in society.

This episode of The Big Rhetorical Podcast was produced as part of the 2023 TBR Podcast Carnival, “Artificial Intelligence: Applications and Trajectories.” The 2023 TBR Podcast Carnival takes place August 28-31 with new podcasts released each day.

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Co-AI Technical Writing: Documentation, Experimentation, User Testing, & Ethical Design

Ann Hill Duin, Isabel Pedersen, Jim Hall, Dan Card, Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch

Conference Paper: OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology is now in use across academic and professional contexts, and co-writing content with AI is eclipsing older notions of AI assistantship. This panel re-envisions co-AI technical and professional writing amid this transformative AI writing landscape, inviting participants to join in discussion and research on documenting generative AI’s ability to develop documentation; providing critical examination to deal with issues of explainability, transparency, and user advocacy; introducing co-AI technical writing and usability testing to students; and designing ethical futures through use of ethical algorithmic impact assessment tools and processes.

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Augmentation Technologies and Artificial Intelligence in Technical Communication: Designing Ethical Futures

Ann Hill Duin, Isabel Pedersen

Book: This book enables readers to interrogate the technical, rhetorical, theoretical, and socio-ethical challenges and opportunities involved in the development and adoption of augmentation technologies and artificial intelligence.

The core of our human experience and identity is forever affected by the rise of augmentation technologies that enhance human capability or productivity. These technologies can add cognitive, physical, sensory, and emotional enhancements to the body or environment. This book demonstrates the benefits, risks, and relevance of emerging augmentation technologies such as brain–computer interaction devices for cognitive enhancement; robots marketed to improve human social interaction; wearables that extend human senses, augment creative abilities, or overcome physical limitations; implantables that amplify intelligence or memory; and devices, AI generators, or algorithms for emotional augmentation. It allows scholars and professionals to understand the impact of these technologies, improve digital and AI literacy, and practice new methods for their design and adoption.

This book will be vital reading for students, scholars, and professionals in fields including technical communication, UX design, computer science, human factors, information technology, sociology of technology, and ethics. Artifacts and supplemental resources for research and teaching can be found at https://fabricofdigitallife.com and www.routledge.com/9781032263755.

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Adapting to AI Writing

Isabel Pedersen

Report: This report summarizes activities, resources, and ideas on the topic of generative AI writing and its cultural adoption, with an emphasis on postsecondary education. It sheds light on how universities are adopting to generative AI as a phenomenon, and some of the reasons that adapting to AI writing is challenging in unique ways. AI hype is a significant factor in this first year of public access to the technology. The act of writing currently serves different cultural and professional roles, and it makes sense that the adaptation to generative AI will be heterogeneous. Users of emergent technology like generative AI go through a process of adaptation before settling into purposeful usage of it. The generative AI market will expand, and the focus in Education should be on learning frameworks first, not on specific products (e.g., ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing Conversational Experiences, DALL-E 2, etc.). Students should be involved in tools discovery and their feedback should be included in course policymaking. Adaptation to autonomous content generation tools will also be determined by instructors’ points of view as teachers as well as their multiple professional roles as non-teachers. AI Literacy, digital literacy, critical media literacy, civic engagement, ethically-aligned adoption and assessment of writing tools will be needed for all people at any level in order to adapt to AI writing, appropriately.

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Semantic Media: Mapping Meaning on the Internet

Andrew Iliadis

Book: Media technologies now provide facts, answers, and “knowledge” to people – search engines, apps, and virtual assistants increasingly articulate responses rather than direct people to other sources. Semantic Media is about this emerging era of meaning-making technologies. Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft organize information in new media products that seek to “intuitively” grasp what people want to know and the actions they want to take. This book describes some of the insidious technological practices through which organizations achieve this while addressing the changing contexts of internet searches, and examines the social and political consequences of what happens when large companies become primary sources of information.

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Visualizing the datasphere: Representations of old bodies and their data in promotional images of smart sensor technologies for aging at home

Kirsten L. Ellison, Wendy Martin, Isabel Pedersen, and Barbara L. Marshall

Journal Article: Technologies for people aging at home are increasingly prevalent and include ambient monitoring devices that work together with wearables to remotely track and monitor older adults’ biometric data and activities of daily living. Our paper examines the ways in which the datafication of aging is offered up visually by technology companies to promote their products. Specifically, we ask: how are data visualized in promotional images of smart sensor technologies for aging at home? And in these visualizations, what happens to the aging body and relations of care? We present 3 themes on the visual representation of old bodies and their data: (1) Captured Data, (2) Spatialized Data, and (3) Networked Data. Each, we argue, contribute to a broader visualization of the “datasphere”. We conclude by highlighting the underlying assumptions of old bodies in the co-constitution of aging and technologies in which the fleshy and lived corporeality of bodies is more often lost, reduced to data points and automated care scenarios, and further disentangled from other bodies, contexts and things.

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Writing Infrastructure with The Fabric of Digital Life Platform

Katlynne Davis, Danielle Mollie Stambler, Jessica Lynn Campbell, Daniel L. Hocutt, Ann Hill Duin, and Isabel Pedersen

Journal Article: Teaching writing involves helping students develop as critical communicators who use writing to question often-unseen systems of power enabled by infrastructures, including digital spaces and technologies. This article uses Walton, Moore, and Jones’ (2019) 3Ps Framework—positionality, privilege, and power—to explore how, through assignments we developed incorporating the Fabric of Digital Life digital archive, instructors can make visible to students the invisible layers of infrastructure. Using the 3Ps framework, we illustrate how our pedagogical approach encourages students to use writing to interrogate digital infrastructure and the ways it is entangled with positionality, privilege, and power. Communication Design Quarterly.

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Localizing Content: The Roles of Technical & Professional Communicators and Machine Learning in Personalized Chatbot

Daniel Hocutt, Nupoor Ranade, and Gustav Verhulsdonck

Journal Article: This exploratory case study of an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbot demonstrates that microcontent, a snippet of personalized content that responds to users’ needs, is a form of localization reliant on a content ecology. In contributing to users’ localized experiences, technical communicators should recognize their work as part of an assemblage in which users, content, and metrics augment each other to produce personalized content that can be consumed by and delivered through AI-assisted technology. We conclude that technical communicators should teach, research, and practice competencies and skills to advocate for localized users in assemblages of user, content, metrics, and AI. Society for Technical Communication, Volume 69, Number 4

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The seer and the seen: Surveying Palantir’s surveillance platform

Andrew Iliadis, Amelia Acker

Journal Article (in The Information Society): Palantir is among the most secretive and understudied surveillance firms globally. The company supplies information technology solutions for data integration and tracking to police and government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and corporations. To illuminate and learn more about Palantir’s opaque surveillance practices, we begin by sketching Palantir’s company history and contract network, followed by an explanation of key terms associated with Palantir’s technology area and a description of the firm’s platform ecosystem. We then summarize current scholarship on Palantir’s continuing role in policing, intelligence, and security operations. Our primary contribution and analysis are a computational topic modeling of Palantir’s surveillance patents (n = 155), including their topics and themes. We end by discussing the concept of infrastructuring to understand Palantir as a surveillance platform, where we theorize information standards like administrative metadata as phenomena for structuring social worlds in and through access to digital information.

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Where is the AI? Educator perspectives

Where is the AI? Educator perspectives

Lesley Wilton, Stephen Ip, Merra Sharma, Frank Fan

Conference Paper: to be presented at 23rd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, 27-31 July, Durham University, UK

Working Alongside Non-Human Agents

Ann Hill Duin, Isabel Pedersen

Conference Paper: From Proceedings of the 2021 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm), 2021, pp. 1-5.

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