Areas of Interest & Specialization:
Continental philosophy: computing ethics, critical theory, political philosophy and feminism.
Aesthetics: philosophy of music theory. I am also a musician who composes in the fusion-percussion idiom. Please see Just Us Percussion.com for details.
Eastern Philosophy: Buddhism and Daoism.
Comparative studies between eastern and western philosophy to track the absorption and synthesis of eastern motifs into mainstream western discourse. This area is particularly fertile in combination with computing-media investigations that explore the merging of multiple worlds via the integration of economic interests made possible by global communication/media networks.
I am also deeply committed to an in-depth study of the ways in which a cultivation of personal calm and tranquility through analytic meditation can translate into social action that encourages non-violent modes of conflict resolution.
Area of Concentration:
Computing Ethics: I explore the ways in which communications technologies (e.g., the Internet and wireless networks) facilitate the widespread use of surveillance technologies that circumvent individual privacy, both with and without our consent. My work concentrates on three 20th century theorists who employ philosophical modes of investigation to consider the implications of technological practices: Heidegger, Marcuse, and Manuel Castells. I also draw insights from contemporary theorists who’ve written specifically about communication, intersubjectivity, plasticity and technology from a phenomenological viewpoint (e.g., Baudrillard, Coyne, Dreyfus, Ihde, Feenberg, Kellner, Johnson, Malabou, Thompson, Turner et al). Under investigation is the intersection of a new plastic mode of subjectivity I’ve termed “being-in-the-web” and the cyberlandscapes of social networking mixed with workplace surveillance that produce tensions between traditional enlightenment notions of privacy and contemporary public personas.
1. Philosophical concepts
I am intrigued by the concepts of autonomy, ethical agency, free will, identity, intersubjectivity, responsibility and transparency as they play out in the postmodern technological landscape. These revered Enlightenment era constructs are being reconfigured and redefined in the information age producing a multi-voiced identity I’ve termed being-in-the-web. Just as our primary models of economic organization have shifted along the agrarian → industrial→ information continuum, so too have the ways in which we theorize the above concepts as we move into the age of virtual presence. It is at the boundaries between the real and virtual where the plasticity of identity produces challenges and conflicts for our conceptions of ethical agency/responsibility and privacy.
2. Subject matter
Virtual modes of communication introduce both positive and negative possibilities for reshaping our notions of agency and responsibility. From a positive perspective we are innovating the ways in which we experience the lived world via the use of web 2.0/3.0 and wireless technologies. Internet and wireless gadgets such as the iPhone provide rich opportunities to study hive behaviors and intersubjectivity (e.g. Steve Johnson, Howard Rheingold, Pekka Himanen) while legislative initiatives and surveillance technologies facilitate reductions in the possible range of autonomous action and invocation of privacy. It is my goal to trace both of these trajectories to their intersection point for the purpose of exploring the phenomenology of being-in-the-web. The implications for the manner in which we re-define autonomy, ethical agency and privacy are numerous. So too are the changing ways in which these phenomena are perceived as necessary or contingent depending on the context in which the virtual self appears.
My work stems from two compatible roots. First, I take from the feminist tradition notions of self-critique, individual empowerment, distributed social interaction and constructivist models of identity to serve as foundational concepts for explaining changes in lived experience triggered by the shift from industry to information. This investigation is both phenomenological and pragmatic in its considerations of the dynamic nature of our concept of identity. Second, the critical theory tradition, especially the dystopian critique of technology, inspires my examination of practices fostering the reduction of autonomy and privacy in the realms of artistic, cultural, political and spiritual forms of expression.
4. Thinkers, Writers & Significant Trends
I am drawn to both modern and contemporary philosophical thinkers who develop the themes above with an aim towards increasing the range of human autonomy and possibility. Though my doctoral work focused on Heidegger, Marcuse and Manuel Castells, there are many 20th century thinkers who are incorporated into a theoretical construct I term the “philosophy of technology” matrix. For example, Baudrillard, Coyne, Derrida, Ellul, Feenberg, Kellner, Habermas, Lyotard and Virilio have all produced relevant examinations of technological impacts on lived experience. It is my aim to continue these threads in my research while acknowledging contemporary work that is both inspirational and transitional for this period in philosophical discourse.
Thus, it is with a profound debt to current scholars such as: Richard Coyne, Angela Davis, Hubert Dreyfus, Fred Evans, Andrew Feenberg, Donna Harraway, Douglas Kellner, Sherry Turkle and William Wurzer that I am able to situate my work across interdisciplinary lines in philosophical and cultural critique.
The current trajectory of my philosophical research involves mining theoretical insights from my doctoral research to create two short texts investigating the themes of autonomy, data-mining, intersubjectivity, privacy and surveillance in the information age. One text (The Logos of Surveillance) explores the relevance of Marcuse’s recently published essays and One-Dimensional Man for understanding the impact of technological rationality on autonomy and privacy. The second text (Being-in-the-Web) draws on three distinct Heideggerian postures towards the “essence of technology” at various points in his career-long critique to introduce possibilities for thinking Being and achieving liberation from the epoch of Enframing.
During the post-doc period, I have also designed a series of talks on privacy and surveillance. Recently I’ve participated in two local speaker’s series at AIP and Slippery Rock University with a multimedia lecture entitled, “Blogs & Logs: Who’s Watching You & Why…” Currently I am offering a series of talks entitled, “Web 3.0: The Semantic Revolution and Implications for Research” aimed at highlighting the ways that researchers use the semantic web to expand their research and cross-pollinate discoveries across disciplines.
The second major project recently completed (2003 – 2007) harkens back to my pre-philosophical roots in the IT industry and involved designing both a curriculum and wireless network for a rural charter school (Tidioute Community Charter School). This work allowed me to implement both pedagogically inspired notions of autonomy and collaboration (e.g., Dewey’s view of democratic education) with my network/technology design skills to create a modern 21st century infrastructure for reviving an isolated rural community in North-central Pennsylvania. This project has since been completed and I am in the process of writing a series of essays on my experience working in this community over a four-year time span.