Monday, December 1, 2014 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
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Room 100F, Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

STS Circle at Harvard

Zara Mirmalek (Harvard, STS Fellow) on "Democracy and the Deep-Sea: Telepresence and Public Participation in Remote Environments"

Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Wednesday at 5PM the week before.

Abstract: Exploration of the deep-sea requires penetrating barriers such as darkness, temperature, and water pressure. Historically, technologies for direct human access have been limited to only a few human bodies. More recently, beginning in the 20th century, institutional and individual efforts have produced and operated a network of information communication technologies, people, and robots that make hard-to-reach environments directly accessible to a significantly greater number of humans—this is telepresence. What does it mean to produce a sociotechnical means for public participation in environments that have previously excluded most observers?
This talk draws from my current ethnographic study of human-technology relationships in the environment of deep-sea science and exploration. Telepresence interrupts the traditional requirement that scientists must be physically present on a ship to participate in real-time science and exploration. It allows scientists on land to work with scientists and robots thousands of miles away and hundreds of feet under the sea. And, it allows any member of the public real-time video, audio, and communication access to these scientists.
Biography:  Zara Mirmalek's research focuses on human-technology relationships, access to remote environments, and intercultural communication. Her recent sites of study are contemporary high-tech organizations wherein workgroups include robots to mediate direct human experience. Zara received her doctorate in Communication and Science Studies from the Department of Communication and the Science Studies Program at the University of California San Diego. Currently, Zara is a postdoctoral fellow in the Program for Science, Technology and Society at Harvard University.

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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