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Dickie Cox

Dickie C. Cox, M.F.A.

Assistant Professor


Department
Communication
Office
Plangere Center 210
Phone
732-571-4429
Email
rcox@monmouth.edu
Office Hours
Mondays by appointment
View IDM Research Lab

Dickie C. Cox, M.F.A.

Education

M.F.A. in Design, Virginia Commonwealth University

BGS in Anthropology, Religious Studies, and Filmmaking, Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Interests

visual communication, play, collaboration, gaming, animation, interactive design, immersive experience design, time-based media, physical computing, extended reality (XR), creative coding, open-source electronics, digital fabrication, and the built-environment

Publications

Scholarly Articles

Cox, D. (2021). I’d rather just watch from the Battle Bus. Well Played. (Forthcoming)

Cox, D. (2020). Curiosity and collaboration: Values at play in Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return. Well Played, 10(2), 94-115. https://press.etc.cmu.edu/index.php/product/well-played-vol-10-no-2/

Cox, D. (2017). Play interventions (2015-present). Media-N, 13 (College Art Conference Edition). (Forthcoming)

Popular Press Articles

Breanne McCarthy, “Visions of the Future,” Monmouth Magazine, West Long Branch, NJ, Summer 2019. https://www.monmouth.edu/magazine/visions-of-the-future/

Anjali Bose, “Artsfest 2019: The Secret of the Singing Stones,” e-Scholium, Newtown Square, PA, February 2019. https://www.e-scholium.org/2019/02/09/artsfest-2019-the-secret-of-the-singing-stones/

Anders Uhl, “Exploring the Creative Frontier with Dickie Cox,” NextFab Blog, Philadelphia, PA, July 26, 2017. https://nextfab.com/dickie-cox

Andrew Sacher, “Elf Power have a new video for “All Things Combined,” begin tour tonight,” Brooklyn Vegan music blog, Brooklyn, NY, July 14, 2017. http://www.brooklynvegan.com/elf-power-have-a-new-video-for-all-things-combined-begin-tour-tonight/

Hunter Mallette, “JSC Fellow Blends Art and Technology,” Basement Medicine, Johnson, VT, April 14, 2016. www.basementmedicine.org/arts-entertainment/2016/04/14/jsc-fellow-blends-art-and-technology/

Presentations/Invited Talks

2021 Southeastern College Art Conference. Lexington, KY. Peer-reviewed Panel: “Makerspaces: Developing A Cross-Disciplinary Space.” (Chair: Jake Weigel). Paper entitled:  “Creating Spaces for Creative Collaboration.” (Forthcoming)

2019 Monmouth University Interdisciplinary Conference on Race, Sixth Biennial. West Long Branch, NJ. Paper entitled: “Art Punks, Corporate Social Responsibility, and a Question of Inclusive Economies: Meow Wolf in Santa Fe and Beyond.”

2018 Southeastern College Art Conference. Birmingham, AL. Peer-reviewed Panel: “Artist-Run Spaces, Collectives, and Collaboration.” (Chairs: Jonathan Traviesa and Cristina Molina). Paper entitled: “Meow Wolf: How the Due Return Became an Eternal House in the Multiverse.”

2018 North Texas Digital Fabrication Symposium. Denton, TX. Peer-reviewed Panel: “Adaptation and Play” (Chairs: Julie Libersat and Colby Parsons). Paper: “The Controller: Encouraging Casual Social Play with Fabricated Interactive Environments.”

2018 NextFab, Philadelphia, PA. Invited Designer Talk: (Curators: Laate Olukotun and Anders Uhl). Titled: Art, Design, Technology, & Fearlessness.”

2017 Southeastern College Art Conference. Columbus, OH. Peer-reviewed Panel: “User-Centered Design.” (Chair: MiHyun Kim). Paper entitled: “Ambiguity, Uncertainty, and Fearlessness: Pedagogical Approaches to Design Thinking for Non- Designers.”

2017 New Media Caucus Conference. Manhattan, NY. Peer-reviewed Panel: “New Media Caucus Showcase 2017.” (Chairs: Scott Conard, Christina Freeman, and Hye Young Kim). Paper: “Play Interventions (2015 – present).”

2017 DesignPhiladelphia Festival. Philadelphia, PA. Invited Designer Panel: “NextFab & DesignPhiladelphia: Show and Tell” (Curators: Laate Olukotun and Anders Uhl). Paper entitled: “When I Grow Up I want to be a Wizard.”

2016 Southeastern College Art Conference. Roanoke, VA. Peer-reviewed Panel: “Object Lessons: The role of the Object in Socially Engaged Art.” (Chairs: Sheryl Oring and Dr. Edward Sterrett). Paper titled: Play Interventions: Engaging the Social to Encourage Criticality.

External Affiliations/Public Engagement

New Media Caucus

Southeastern College Art Conference

Broadcast Education Association

Residencies

2019 Artist-in-Residence, Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA. December 2018 – May 2019. Served as facilitator and principal designer in the creation a maximal, immersive, and interactive art installation with two dozen high school students. The cornerstones for the project were storytelling, art & design, and technology and engaged students and faculty in the Departments of English, Art, and Engineering.

2018 Researcher-in-Residence, MEOW WOLF Creative Studios in Santa Fe, NM. June-July 2018. Examined the creative and collaborative structures with this B Corporation by interviewing team members for a documentary video project, shadowing teams in their day-to-day operations, and studying the company’s first permanent immersive and interactive exhibition as the one-time DIY art collective transitioned into a company of nearly 350 employees working on two new permanent exhibitions.

Awards and Honors

Summer Faculty Fellowship, 2018, Monmouth University Grants and Sabbatical Committee.  

Inaugural Fellow, Barbara E. Murphy Fellowship 2016 at Johnson State College engaging with students on a public art installation and large-scale digital fabrication project.

Best in Show Purchase Award, Double Exposure Photography Show 2006 – Juror: Birney Imes

Honorable Mention Award, 14th Annual Southeast Regional Fine Arts Exhibition 2006 – Juror: Cynthia Hollis

Additional Information

Listen to Professor Cox’s episode of the Department of Communication’s Professor Profiles Podcast:

Transcript

Nick:

All right. Welcome to another installment of our professor profiles. I believe that’s still a very tentative name that we’re going with. We’re just kind of sitting down at this juncture in time and trying to get to know some of our fellow faculty members here in the department of communication. I’m Nick Messina specialist professor here in that same department. And along with my my colleague, Matt Harmon, like I said, we’re sitting down and trying to get to know the secret life, if you will, of our professors try to get to know us a little bit, bit, a little bit better. And seeing with me today, assistant professor of communication, the concentration director of interactive digital media, the researcher in residence for Meow Wolf and the animator and director for elf powers, all things combined, music video, and all around snappy dresser, Dickie Cox, how are you today Dickie?

Dickie:

I’m great, Nick, thanks so much for taking some time out of your day and inviting me to have this conversation with you.

Nick:

Oh, no, trust me. It is, it is an honor. A pleasure to sit down with you. At all times it’s a regular conversation that we have. However, now it’s on mic, so it’s it’s, it’s fun stuff. Now Dickie, you are, as I had mentioned, you, you’re the concentration director for the interactive digital media concentration, brand new here at here at Monmouth. You do a lot of work with the relationship or investigating the relationship between art design, communications, society, culture and technology and technology. Oh, I forgot the most important, the most important part of it all. What do you, what do you bring to the table for yourself? I know you, you do a lot of like art installations and art work with all of those mediums. I don’t even have a Twitter. I don’t know how any interactive digital media works at all. Yeah. Which is, which is really sad in the grand scheme of things. But so what are some of the what’s some of the work that you’ve, you’ve done previously to bring you to this place? Hmm.

Dickie:

I, you know, I, I purposefully didn’t prepare myself today. So this is going to ramble a little. That’s fine. Let me say that I’ve spent almost my entire adult life dabbling I’m a tinkerer maybe more than anything and these days I just, I say I play right. And I, what I bring to the table is a sense of experimentation and play with all media and with technology and the integration of both of those things in the service of human, human behavior, human culture, right. Societal issues. The thing that I’m I’m most interested in is how media is used to build the world that we exist in.

Nick:

Oh God, that’s, that sounds like a, like a massive undertaking at the end of the day.

Dickie:

Well, I mean, I just, I think that we’ve, you know, post convergence and, you know, for those people who maybe don’t know what Comergence is, convergence is really something that happened in the early 21st century when digital technologies started to reappropriate former historical analog different forms of media and, and all entered in this of that same digital space. So it’s this idea that the digital can replicate sound, it can replicate video, it can replicate now objects and, and scans and meshes of three-dimensional objects. And those data sets that render those previous, you know, it’s almost like a carrier wave in audio, right. If we think about radio, there’s a carrier wave and there’s, there’s the, the signal that is serviced by that carrier wave digital really allows us to facilitate the one dimension words, two dimensions that the audio, the visual the moving image, three objects, manifestations of the built environment for times,

Nick:

Oh, God did that. And five behavior,

Dickie:

Right? Those are the dimensions of interactivity that I see digital servicing. And I get excited because I work across those five dimensions and I try to teach students how those things happen. And, and oftentimes students get a little confused and they’ll be like, well, I don’t quite get what this thing is doing. And it’s because all of those dimensions are happening simultaneously. And we get to as media makers, we create those, but just as consumers of media we learn to parse those things and analyze them and be critical and see how they’re made. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s, you know, media is servicing some form of persuasion. Typically,

Nick:

It sounds like you’re playing, like, you know, one of those, a five tiered, like chess games, the entire time trying to put together a project at any one point, it sounds almost overwhelming to even, you know, begin to you’re. Right. You know, we parse out all of these individual aspects and try to analyze them individually and sometimes have a lot of challenge just doing that all five altogether, what a monumental undertaking

Dickie:

We’ve been practicing with those five dimensions, our whole lives in many ways like, you know, maybe I’m thinking about it a lot more these days because, you know, I have a new son but watching reflexes develop you know, understanding how mediation works through the process of developing a system and the cognitive processes coming online, like, I mean, many of these things are reflexive to us. Now. We don’t have to think about them. We, we can often act in an autopilot mode. And I think as consumers of media, we are very nuanced. We are very savvy. But I think one of the reasons I appreciate being in account department right now, even though, you know, I sort of see myself more as an artist and the designer is the, the amount of attention that we pay to being critical in breaking those messages and the delivery vessels of those messages apart

Nick:

In an analytical way. It’s, it’s, it’s interesting because this, you know, it circles back to that idea of convergence. Do you have mentioned in talking about that with people, some of these previously assumed barriers that exist or existed no longer do at all? You know, from a psychological perspective, you know, the idea of a geography is a barrier no longer exists as a result of this digitization and, and, and things along those lines.

Dickie:

Well, and, and in that thread, I mean the whole idea of democracy and the democratization of media sort of shifts you know, a lot of the gatekeeping used to happen because media technology was very expensive. It had to be housed and in, in unique locations. And so that was

Nick:

Gate kept by

Dickie:

Points of distribution. But it was also gate kept, as, you know, you had to have a studio to do it. And now how many, how many young people do I know who have studios at home, or even the idea of a studio on a mobile device now? Oh my God. Yeah, absolutely. So as a teacher, it’s fascinating to see those same paradigms being applied to education and students who understand that democratization of media, sort of applying that to their expectations of education. It is,

Nick:

It’s a fascinating thought process. You focus a lot on which I love also, you know, I did a little research, which is always, you know, important to actually, which is always important to highlight. Much of your work is surrounded or does surround toys and gamification. I like to call it play. Oh, that’s right. Yeah. Was, was there a particular moment when, again, maybe again, throughout your studies or even beforehand where all of these individual factors start to, to click, was there any one particular interaction that you were having with while at play where you kind of realized, like, this is a, this is a field of study and this is this warrants investigation. And, you know, this is a, this is a good thing for myself and for others to know about as well.

Dickie:

So there’s not one moment per se, but there are a lot of moments that I could string together. And if you’ll allow me, I will, we’ve got all the time

Nick:

We are recording digitally. So there is no end of tape that we will click by any means.

Dickie:

So I think early on some, my earliest memories as a kid was I loved staring at toys. I loved examining toys. And I mean, I liked it, the earliest toys for me, it’s interesting knowing as an adult, that star Wars is this transmedia and what may be one of the first trans media platforms at the scale at which it developed. So star Wars had an amazing, an immense impact on my, you know, I was two when the first movie came out. So my earliest ideas of narrative and, and mythos are carved around that, that form of trans media entertainment and the toy line that came out of that to retell the story. Right. and that mediation of the toy to tell the story, or, you know, for the organization of, you know, Lucas films and, and George Lucas making 2% off of all those toys that were selling, you know, so like as an adult, I can examine all of, all of that. But at the root, as a kid, I was telling myself stories and I was retelling myself certain stories. So there was a mythology that was in my mind, I grew up in a really small town in Southern Virginia. One of the stories I often tell is that at the age of 13 Dungeons and dragons really saved my life.

Nick:

Oh, yes, you are. Now, are you still, are you still an active? Yeah, I still,

Dickie:

I still, I love playing games. Oftentimes I’ll say I play games and people just make an assumption that I play video games, and that’s what I’m talking about. And I do love video games. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a huge industry that is now on par with the scale of the film industry. So it can’t be ignored as a, as a cultural phenomenon. And, and so I think that it is ripe as a place to examine. But my real interest is in a subset of that gaming industry, which is tabletop gaming. I love board games. I love role-playing games. I like being at a table with people and I’m not a particularly competitive person with games. I really just like examining systems. I like thinking about rules. I like watching how other people play. Right.

Nick:

You’re more attracted to these strategic aspect of the game rather than the, I need to beat the person sitting across from me or, you know, I need to be myself.

Dickie:

Well, it’s like a, it’s a, it’s a place to experiment. Right. And to me like that act of play to go back to something we were talking about earlier. Yeah. The act of play is, is about experimenting. It is it’s, it’s creating a meta experience to try something that is not your first impulse. And the way I, I play into education is really that idea that, you know, I increasingly see students coming to that first solution. And it may be a fine solution, but the thing that I’ve learned is if you examine a little more, if you dig a little deeper, if you try to connect more dots, you’ll often come up with an alternative solution. And to me play and experimentation is at the heart of being human. It’s. It’s about

Nick:

One of the reasons why, you know toys R us a little while ago had left, you know they tried to draw the line that, you know, so many more younger people and younger children. We’re getting more and more of their entertainment through, or none of their entertainment, but their, yeah. Their games, their entertainment through iPads and, and, you know, some of these more digital systems. Do you think that, so, so even without the data, we can probably say that tangible toys, tangible objects with which to play have probably declined that production, the, the purchase of them and utilization of them and the playing with them. Do you think that that’s gonna have an impact on imagination maybe going forward, or do you think that as a result of being able to create a space and a world with this new technology then in fact the opposite will happen. We’ll have an expanded idea of imagination.

Dickie:

Hm. That’s a good question. I hadn’t really thought about it framed like that. So a couple of just like gut responses late nineties saw throughout the eighties into the nineties there was a ramping down of manufacturing culture, manufacturing production especially in the U S while it was proliferating globally.

Nick:

So

Dickie:

There were a number of economic types who were looking at that, you know, what comes after the, the consumerism that is, is fueled by manufacturing. And I mean, it’s hard to say that we come to an end to that if you consider how much money Amazon makes and the, the way the, the gatekeeping changes across those economic systems.

Nick:

But

Dickie:

There was this idea of the experience economy, and it, it is not wasted on me that it coincided with the advent of the internet as a massive public platform. And this idea of the experience economy is, is the economy that follows it. You know, it’s not a service-based economy, it’s a kind of service economy, but it, you know, it’s kind of and I think for my interest in Meow Wolf and the kind of work that they do, and, and then the bigger picture of the immersive art and entertainment communities and, and makers this idea of the, the experience economy is literally world-building right. It is. And, and I think it benefits from that post digital turn, right? The post convergence it’s this idea that we can literally build worlds using these digital tools. And so I being around those hundreds of people who are working in the Meow Wolf factory it’s really hard to believe that these tools and these digital experiences are going to somehow have less of an impact on the imagination.

Dickie:

And I would say, you know, I have an eight month old right now. And I haven’t told him anything about screens per se. I haven’t described media to him. But I can tell you that every time a phone enters the space that he is in, or anytime a laptop is open in the space that he’s in, or if we’re in a retail space that has a giant TVs, his attention goes to those screens. It’s a natural phenomenon. I’ve not told him anything about them, right. He’s uncovering the world for himself. So there, there seems to be this attraction to that emanation of light not to be too metaphysical, but hopefully that, that emanation of light you know, he’s, he still has plenty of tactile experiences. His, his sensory experiences are still very present. And I think part of the reason that these immersive experiences that are unfolding are, you know, they’re, they start as ideas in one nervous system, multiple nervous systems share those ideas. They manifest them, they make they ideate. They start to build with these digital tools. They build with analog tools, they built objects, they built spaces. They built narratives that fit in those spaces. There’s a fabrication of other worlds literally happening. You know, it’s pretty out there if you slow down and start to unpack it, it is. But I, you know, it calls back to that fifth

Nick:

Dimension or fifth aspect that you’re talking about in terms of, you know, behavior and human behavior, human behavior, human behavior, which is a yeah.

Dickie:

Well, and it’s, it’s something we’ve been doing for a long time. I mean so, you know, as an undergraduate, I studied with an Andean ordained shaman whose father had made significant academic work around the, the Revenant tribes of the Chimu in Peru. Oh my God. And so he, he did this really interesting sort of cross-sectional study of time in this one geographic region. And that’s always sort of stuck with me and he used this idea of like the laws of dissipative structures

Nick:

Which is a yes for

Dickie:

It’s thermodynamics. Right. Okay. Cannot be created nor destroyed. So again, it gets a little metaphysical perfectly.

Nick:

I obviously just wanted you to explain for whoever yeah.

Dickie:

Listening dearly, I’ve been following the whole time. So humans, so he started with the, the, you know, this cross-section of time went back, you know, a hundred thousand years pre pre-language. Right. so that entity, the entities that we were evolutionarily and then the thing that we became and the advent of language across, you know, the different genuses were part of this examination. Right. So what is that impulse to language? Like what and, and I remember in class, we, we talked about, what is this idea, like, what is the first thing that we needed to say to one another, and at the end of the class conversation the thing that we arrived at was, Hey, do you see what I’m seeing? Huh? Right. It’s we develop language to have a confirmation of experience. Right, right, right. Oh, yeah.

Nick:

Dickie now, now, now I’m having like an existential crisis of my own, trying to, cause I’m thinking, I, I was like, well, I don’t know, is it help? Or, or, but now it was, it was look at this, come here and see what I’m seeing

Dickie:

Amazing that, you know, that confirmation leads to our ability to begin to organize

Nick:

Well, and I’m sure empathize at the same time then. Yes.

Dickie:

Yeah. To express, I mean, all of the things that we do routinely with language or with any of our manifestations of language, which are mediated experiences, like there’s a lot to do with like emotional confirmation or wish fulfillment or just telling stories.

Nick:

And it’s a, it’s a, it’s a beautiful thing. And I guess that’s is that that’s some of the work that you do with Meow Wolf. I was trying to figure out a way to describe what Meow Wolf is, what that space, you know, kind of is. And, you know, I was only able to really come up with like adult playground.

Dickie:

And that’s a, that’s a reasonable take on it. So let me say first that I researched me. I well, so it’s not that I work with Meow Wolf and I got incredibly lucky to know a couple of people within the organization. And you know, because of the power of the internet, I was giving an artist talk just before they opened their first permanent installation in 2016. And I gave a shout out to them opening the CEO at the time reached out to me and, you know, thanks someday. I hope we get to work together on something. And I sure did too, because like, you know, to go back to that question, you asked earlier of like those that like affected what I wanted to do, you know, so it was examining toys as a kid. It was Dungeons and dragons.

Dickie:

And in 2011 I saw Meow Wolf’s work for the first time in a contemporary gallery space. It was this trans dimensional 75 foot multi-story pirates that literally had different parts of the ship had its own personality. You could tell that it was lived in and occupied. And then I came to discover that hundreds of people had helped build and fabricate this thing. And they had done it as an art collective that started as a core of a dozen people and counted on volunteers doing what they call I’ve now discovered they call reverse capital, right? They all worked part time jobs, so they could spend all their money building these things that would pop up for a handful of months, maybe at a time or even weekends or weeks. And then they would just take them down and demolish them, right. This act of like building and taking down.

Dickie:

And they realized that in order to keep doing it and to build it, the scale they were working at, they had to manifest their first permanent space. And so, you know, now to go back to the story of like that first shout out from, from Vince when I gave, you know, this artist talk in Vermont he reached out to me and said, you know, someday love to collaborate on something. And I said, me too, because honestly that, that pirate ship in 2011 was life altering. You know, I, at that point I had made media, I had experimented with lots of kinds of media. I had done zenes. I was a filmmaker. I was an animator. I had mostly done screen-based work or sound time-based work, right? Like 2d and 40, I’d never made objects. I’d never thought about that.

Dickie:

And I stepped into this space that is this fabricated scenic design, but it’s, it’s not just, it’s not just a percentage. It’s not just a surface. It’s like the way Kennedy Katie Kennedy, who was one of the founders of Meow Wolf described it. And she’s currently a senior creative for, you know, a company of now 450 people in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was like, imagine the weirdest scifi movie that you’ve ever watched is a place that you can go to. And you can examine the locations within that set characters, weird, strange interactive phenomena to the highest and finest level of detail that you possibly well, all the way down to, like you can get down on the floor and like peer into a tiny crack in a wall, and you can see something on the other side of the wall, right? It’s like that level of detail that hundreds of people have built around these sort of weird stories and ideas that are loosely connected. There’s a loose narrative that threads 20,000 square feet of space together. And it’s a phenomena that attracts over a thousand people a day.

Nick:

Cause that was just the thought that I had in that is we can all go to this space and yet each one of us come out with a different experience.

Dickie:

There are no maps. There, there are no guided tours.

Nick:

And I think that’s, that’s phenomenal, you know, especially, you know, living in this sort of day and age that we do where while we are given the opportunity to reach out and experience more and explore more than we ever could, we seem to be picking paths and sticking with one path and not necessarily being given the opportunity to deviate and to explore for one reason or another. And it sounds like this is basically saying like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you can. And you should still be searching and looking and yeah, we can be surrounded with one another, but each one of our own experiences is going to dictate this experience, which will then again, still be different from everybody.

Dickie:

Yeah. Well, I mean, it was very much like a, an open design video game, right. It’s like a video game in real life. And I can tell you that I’ve been there a dozen times for as short as maybe three hours, one visit and 12 hours another visit, maybe not quite 12, maybe like nine but long day. Right. and having gone there for hundreds of hours I can tell you that I found something new every single time I went, there were literally spaces that I had not been to until, you know, the tenant

Nick:

Visit that’s the visit. That’s so that’s so exciting that like that, that is incredibly yeah, exciting. I don’t think we have that a lot of times, you know, sometimes if you go to a museum and you go to a space, I’ve seen it all already and I’ve done this and it becomes mundane and we lose that interest. But to know that there are all these little, you know, maybe Easter eggs all over the place that forces you to look further or look beyond what you’re seeing, it’s an instant exciting, and it’s a new sort of endeavor. It basically says it’s okay to be curious.

Dickie:

Absolutely. And, and it encourages play and, and having a playful eye. Right. so one of the stories I often tell is that, you know, from about the age of five, I’ve been looking for a doorway to Narnia everywhere I go, right. And maybe I do it a little less now, but in 2011, I found that door for the first time when I stepped into a Meow Wolf installation. And what’s amazing is like, there are tons of groups now that are doing this kind of work, they’re building these, these fictional worlds. But I think the promise in something like this is that these collectives are literally manifesting into the real world, right? So there’s this opportunity, you know, people often talk about this work as sort of escapism. So I guess the question that I have sort of as a philosophical poet, right, is like, what is it that we’re escaping from and how can, you know, the work that these collectives are doing? How can we take those skillsets, take that, that sense of collaboration and working together and how can we, how can we take that, that wonder of those fictional worlds and, and make that the world that we’re escaping from? How can we, you know, so maybe it’s a little utopian, but

Nick:

I don’t know. I don’t think that I can’t imagine meeting anybody that would try to make an argument that that’s a bad thing. Well, so within, within reason, but our strategy.

Dickie:

Yeah. I’m sure that I’m sure if we opened the comment section, someone would come up with some ideas there.

Nick:

I believe this is just for listening. There is no interactive element here by any means, so sorry to all of you listening you just have to yell at your screen or, yeah.

Dickie:

So, you know, a lot of this is you know, I I’m, I’m, I’m processing a lot of our conversation right now and, you know, the, the, the phones that are in our pockets right now have fundamentally altered our society for the good and for the ill. And you know, there’s a, to marketization, there’s this direct democratization. And you know, it’s also, it’s, it’s grown very quickly. It’s gone unchecked in terms of, you know, how it’s regulated and the, the level of experimentation by companies on humans, like, it’s, it is literally like kind of a human experiment. Right. it, like, I think if you really take a minute to think about, you know, you put an address in, and you literally go where a company tells you to go yeah. Is freaky. And, but people don’t usually frame it that way.

Dickie:

They’re just like, Oh yeah, Google maps got me here. Right. So so this post mobile turn is we’re in a weird place because in terms of the, the one-on-one behaviors that I see in space, like we’re often connected to those people, to the exclusion of the people that were in an immediate space with and we use these devices as kinds of shields and deflectors, so that we don’t have to engage in things that we, you know, see as uncomfortable Sherry Turkle, who is at the MIT media lab, talks a lot about how, you know, digital allows us to create these sort of like perfect scenarios and we can edit and cultivate, but like being around people in meet space and in real time, like, can’t edit that. And I mean, certainly I can think of all the times I’ve stayed awake in the middle of the night. Like, why did I say that? So, you know I think these kinds of spaces offer this alternative to us to practice some of that discomfort or awkwardness in spaces that don’t have the normal governing rules of reality or society. They’re weird spaces, and we can be awkward together in these weird spaces as a way of practicing being public and being social.

Nick:

I feel like, again, I feel like you just described my classroom.

Speaker 3:

So in a word,

Nick:

How do you in, in a word, you know, what is your feeling going forward on human technology interaction and, and homogenization for lack of a better term?

Speaker 3:

I mean, we’re all functional cyborgs as far as I can tell already. Well, not all, but

Dickie:

A significant population on this planet and connectivity wise we have over 7 billion humans and it’s like 56% of the planet is connected less than half of those people have broadband access. So that’s a game changer too. But there’s this sort of increased hive mind that we’re connected to as a planet. But I think about, I think about that 44%, that is not connected. I think about the exploitation, right. So I think there are some big things that we have to solve both culturally and globally. A lot of those are governed by economics that go on examined and industries that go on examined. So, you know

Speaker 3:

I guess I’m a Marxist,

Dickie:

Like it’s about the, the forms and, and control of the means of production and the who benefits from the means of production. So I think there are big questions that have to be examined. I don’t know that any one of us can answer them but they need to be examined much more thoroughly. I think our politics have to change a lot. We, we need people who are able to unpack at the speed that these developments are occurring so that we have real regulation that’s meaningful. I think psychiatrists are going to have a field day for decades.

Speaker 3:

Oh, goodness. God knows. Mine does.

Dickie:

I, you know, so I don’t know if I can put it in a word to answer your question there. To me, there’s just so many unknowns. I, I think a lot of these technologies take away from our, our ability to remember that we’re an embodied organism, right. That we are having a conscious experience that is like being driven by neurochemistry. And you know, so we’re just operating on all of these layers constantly. But I, my hope is that you know, we can be uncomfortable thinking about, Oh, I am a neuro biological chemical process that’s occurring. That is like having a social socially awkward moment with another collective neurological

Nick:

Entity.

Dickie:

Right. Like and, and that somehow creates a meaning spirituality connection. Yeah.

Nick:

When it’s, when it’s all lumped together, ma these will never be separated again, this, this, this technology and what it means to be a human will essentially,

Dickie:

Well, it depends on how we define what a technology is. And you know, so, I mean, we can think about digital technologies and electronics as, as technology, but that’s not the sole technology room there. Sure. The fact that I can still swing a hammer is still a tool. It’s still a tool and, and those tools are technologies and they’re ever changing. But ever since we had that instinct to, you know, swing a stick or throw a rock, or put the rock on top of the stick and bind it together with a vine to make it more of a leveraging capability to extend our natural ability to do something super natural. Wow. That is a lot to unpack.

Nick:

Wow. You know, and, and I’ve been doing this with everybody just from when we wrap up, because we’ve been having these genuine conversations. I’ve got to say it, this is, this has been a, an experience for me thus far. That’s been so much fun because I get to see a lot of, you know, I get to see everybody on a regular basis. But getting to sit down in this environment and, and really chat about not even so much what we’re doing, but those things that we think about that impact what we’re doing and, and hopefully, you know, bringing more of a look into our backgrounds and things along those lines has been great. So I’ve been trying to at least, you know, wrap up on a similar thread. Okay.

Dickie:

Little light,

Nick:

What, what are we watching? What are we reading? What are we listening to at this at this particular moment in time, sometimes the easiest questions are the ones that always throw us for a loop.

Dickie:

It, it, you know I’m having some weird guilty pleasures right now. So I don’t, I haven’t been able to undertake a lot of ongoing and dedicated reading and viewing just because of having an infant in the house. So I’ve, I would say I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube and Twitch gameplay videos and people who are using gameplay videos as like narrative building. So I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at that reading I’ve been doing a lot of research. So part of the work that I did with Meow Wolf is this ethnography of the male will structure and thinking about post capital models. And so this idea of post capital is like, what’s going to replace capitalism because in many people suggest we’re in late stage capitalism. So, you know, I’m looking at this idea of collectives and how collectives can control the means to ideas and to the manifestations of ideas through production. So, you know, I’m reading a lot of like academic articles in support of, you know, trying to write my own essays right now. None are coming off to the top of my head immediately, which is the nature sometimes of academic writing is it’s all blurs together, search for articles. But you know, so I’m, I’m looking at a lot of these ideas regarding the economics, inclusive economics and reading articles around what does an inclusive economy look like?

Nick:

I would love to be a part of that inclusive economic economy. Very, very much so Dickie Cox, I cannot thank you enough for sitting down with us. Dickie Cox assistant professor here in the communication department of communication, concentration, director of IDM, and I’ll still reiterate it a dam snappy dresser. Thanks so much folks. Thank you very much for joining us. Make sure you keep an eye out for our next installment, or you can go ahead and just click right over to the next person. Now I’m Nick Messina specialist, professor of communication here at Monmouth university. And we’ll see you again later.

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