Thesis ID: CBB001561275

Touch Machines: An Archeology of Haptic Interfacing (2008)


Parisi, David P. (Author)

New York University
Rajagopal, Arvind

Publication Date: 2008
Edition Details: Advisor: Rajagopal, Arvind
Physical Details: 450 pp.
Language: English

***** The late twentieth century brought a rise of new techniques for interacting with information related to the development of the human-computer interface. A subset of these interface technologies, haptic interfaces, attempted to convey informatic to computer users through touch-based cues, such as vibrations, generated by the machine. I detail the history of assumptions about touch mobilized by interface designers in the development of these interfaces, identifying a formalized 'science of touch' born in the laboratory of German anatomist Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795-1878) during the research he began in the 1830s. By the end of the nineteenth century, this new science had given the status of a doctrine termed 'haptics' and compared to the doctrines of optics and acoustics being researched by experimental psychologists. At the same time, the development of techniques for manipulating electricity involved forging an intimate relationship between touch and electricity; tactile shock was used as a method to reveal the presence of electricity. When electricity was used as a medical therapeutic, shock had to be skillfully applied by physicians; these physicians mediated and narrated the relationship between electricity and touch. I then provide a thorough account of the spaces in which the haptic developed as a formal area of scientific enquiry in the twentieth century, showing how this body of knowledge was applied beginning in the 1920s to the design of systems intended to translate first sounds and later images into machine-generated tactile sensations. Using this strategy, I situate haptic interfaces as part of a broader continuum intended to make touch a channel through which formalized, symbolic information can be transmitted to subjects, in the process colonizing touch with discourses of informatics. All of this is intended to frame touch not as a mode of experience left behind by discourses of modernity, but rather one radically implicated in it. Excavating this model of tactility allows the haptic to come into view as a product of historically-specific conversations about touch that attempted to provide it with a new use-value in a changing economy of perception. I end Touch Machines with a site-specific examination of contemporary haptic interfaces, and attempt to provide a model for future research both by myself and other interested scholars. Touch Machines therefore serves to define a new terrain within which to explore the relationship between discourses about touch, mediation and modernity. ***** References ***** * References (215) *****


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 70/01 (2009). Pub. no. AAT 3346267.

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Authors & Contributors
Priestley, Mark
Haigh, Thomas
Friedewald, Michael
Green, Christopher D.
Tofts, Darren
Jonson, Annemarie
Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Science-Fiction Studies
Humanities and Technology Review
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
MIT Press
Stanford University Press
Lonely Scholar Scientific Books
Harvard University Press
Computers and computing
Computer science
Human-machine interaction
Technology and society
Licklider, Joseph C. R.
Engelbart, Douglas
Babbage, Charles
Lovelace, Ada, Countess of
Von Neumann, John
Turing, Alan Mathison
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
United States
Great Britain
Minnesota (U.S.)
Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium
Dartmouth University

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