Interactions and Screens in Research and Education



Version française > Christine Develotte, Amélie Bouquain, Tatiana Codreanu, Christelle Combe, Morgane Domanchin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Dorothée Furnon, Jean-François Grassin, Samira Ibnelkaïd, Justine Lascar, Joséphine Rémon, Caroline Vincent, « Glossary », Interactions and Screens in Research and Education (enhanced edition), Les Ateliers de [sens public], Montreal, 2023, isbn:978-2-924925-25-6,
version:0, 11/15/2023
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This glossary brings together our own definitions of the concepts created during this study. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Group, artefactual and individual categorisation

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Drawing on the concept of membership categorization devices (MCD) (Sacks 1992), which we have revisited in this polyartefactual communication context, we have defined three categorizations – group, artefactual and individual – corresponding to the three levels of perception and representation of remote participants by on-site participants.

Group categorization

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Group categorization is a generalizing perception effect of individuals or groups of individuals to whom common characteristics are attributed. This categorization has an effect on the nominal forms of address that are used to address participants. In this case, in the context of a group categorization, individuals will be referred to or engaged as a group; their presence is expressed by way of the group, thus negating the otherness of individuals.

For instance, as this term is used to illustrate a concept in the polyartefacted seminar, remote participants are referred to or addressed using terms such as “remote”, “the remote people”, even though each of them is situated in a different individual context.

Artefactual categorisation

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Artefactual categorizationSee also the definition of Artefacted presence.↩︎ is an individual perception effect relating to an object or to an artefact. This type of categorization is a form of “reificationSee also the definition of Reifying materialisation effect and personifying materiality effect.↩︎” of the participant using an artefact. In this case, nominal forms of address are substituted (Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2010): one speaks to participants by way of the object that represents them. The effect of presence thus is only expressed by way of the artefact used.

In the case of this polyartefacted seminar, the artefacts used allow participants to participate in the seminar remotely: the Beam and Kubi robots or the Adobe Connect platform. For example, people speak to an individual (Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2010) using the brand name of the object or the object itself (Adobe, Beam, Kubi or “the robot”); sometimes human characteristics are attributed to the object (“The robot sneezes”), the object personified and the individual reified.

Individual categorisation

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Individual categorization is a subjective perception effect relating to the participant, which allows individuals being addressed to be taken into account in their otherness. The nominal forms of address (Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2010) that are used to refer to or address them are those related to their identity (first name, the familiar form tu, direct address).

Affordance blindness

Jean-François Grassin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Joséphine Rémon and Caroline Vincent

In reference to “attentional blindness” as coined by Kanai, Walsh and Tseng (2010) when stimuli are too weak to draw attention. A possibility of action can sometimes not be taken even when this possibility is technically available. For instance, the floor is given to an online participant, but if she forgets to activate her microphone, the opportunity to act by transmitting the sound of her voice to the seminar participants is not available, even though socially and technically the conditions are potentially there. We thus define affordance blindness as the failure to apprehend a possibility to act in an environment (misapprehension or, on the contrary, false belief in the possibility of action). This is the case when participants don’t activate their microphone and can’t be heard, or when a participant speaks to a projection on the wall instead of addressing the actual camera.

Chain of distributed agency

Samira Ibnelkaïd

During their interaction with others, individuals produce multimodal actions for which they are held responsible. This capacity of individuals to act on their environment, on objects and on others, as well as the subject’s perception of this faculty, is subsumed under the notion of agency (Butler 2002).

We can identify three main intersubjective dimensions that allow interactants to construct social ties guaranteeing group cohesion, as well as everyone’s autonomy vis-à-vis the others (Nadel and Decety 2006):

  • Agency – our actions, thoughts and desires are ours and we are relatively conscious of causing and controlling them;

  • Resonance – the unconscious, automatic faculty that pushes us to make the emotions of others resonate in ourselves;

  • Empathy – the active process that allows us to understand the cause of other people’s emotional state and to show that we recognise and understand their emotions.

In combination with resonance and empathy, agency guarantees that the subject is the master of their actions, thus avoiding any confusion between self and other.

But this guarantee appears to be put to the test by the mediation of a tekhnê that is increasingly intelligent, immersive and ingrained in social interaction. Between the speaker, the artefact and the interlocutor, the question arises as to the attribution of the interactional gesture from its emission to its perception during digital interactions. Individuals and their communication artefacts thus have recourse to both natural and non-natural language as a tool of mediation and intercession by mobilising all the semiotic resources at their disposal to act on one another (De Fornel 2013).

During polyartefacted interactions, subjects’ gestures and actions tend to get inscribed in what we call a chain of distributed agency. Each of the interactants has the opportunity to contribute to the preservation of communication by way of any significant gesture, no matter how small. The communicative affordances and the positioning of bodies and artefacts in space mean that subjects have to cooperate, since they cannot individually undertake the complex and reticular physical-digital mediation. Hybrid presence translates into a flow running across subjects and artefacts. The gesture is constituted within a chain: it is initiated by some, and continued and completed by others, whether subjects or tekhnê. Action is distributed within the network of subjects and artefacts (actions on the screen, moving the artefacts, spatial restructuring, gestures, etc.). No action can be definitively attributed to a single subject, but each one is carried out in an intersubjective flow via a shared artefacted corporeality. Bodies thus become one.

By mobilising multimodal and multisemiotic resources, the chain of distributed agency guarantees an expanded field of linguistic, technical and sensory action.

Sequence 6 : “Amélie, can you move, please?”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

Co-affordances (or attentional co-affordances, attentional affordances, affordance co-construction, co-affordant action, “mutually explicit” affordant attention)

Jean-François Grassin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Joséphine Rémon and Caroline Vincent

These terms fall within Van Lier’s (2002) theory of affordance inasmuch as they do not dissociate perception from action: perception is both an invitation to action and an essential component of action. A triad emerges consisting of the environment, the user and the activity.

In our case, the affordances of the connected objects enabling communication cannot be interpreted in isolation, since participants are engaged in collective, artefacted and trans-individual attentional regimesSee the definition of Collective, artefactual and transindividual attentional regimes.↩︎ (Teil 2012, 28). We thus consider affordances in relation to groups and communities of individuals, in order to better take into account the co-influence among individuals, groups and their social and material environment; these are social affordances that we call “co-affordances”.

At times, participants do not have a clear idea about how the system works: for example, which artefacts transmit sound and image and which do not. This makes attentional choreographies (Jones 2004, 28) more complicated and demands the reconstruction of a collective and distributed understanding of affordances: i.e., of the mutually recognised possibilities of action of each individual that we call “attentional co-affordances”.

An example of attentional co-affordance

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Attentional affordances in an instrumented seminar”.

In the context of the seminar, the asymmetry of perspectives (Sirkin et al. 2011, 162), technical problems and/or affordance blindness at times create obstacles for participants that exclude them from the participation framework (Goffman 1981). To add to the complexity of the situation, in the presence of kinetic-audio-visual obstacles, other participants do not know if it is a matter of deliberate choice, non-ratification (Goffman 1981) or a technical problem.

Hence, to rectify these situations, an explicit co-construction is required and triggers a “co-constructed” affordance creating meaning and the placement of attentional markers during the interaction.

Dual Communitarisation

Samira Ibnelkaïd

The ethnomethodological approach reminds us of the situated character of social interactions (Garfinkel 1967). Indeed, social interactions take place within a specific context and ecology. The relevant properties of the context, as well as the organisational properties of the action that is made recognisable, allow participants to make their practices intelligible to each other, in order to participate in them, to be involved in them and to coordinate (Garfinkel 1967).

A well-functioning screen interaction is based on the ability of subjects to make themselves visible and to make their productions, and the activities in which they are situated, intelligible. The co-construction of the intelligibility of action by interactants is a sine qua non of digital “interactional felicity(Cosnier 1996) to the extent that artefaction gives rise to informational asymmetry (the entirety of contextual data and resources are not naturally available to all participants; it is not possible for one of them to perceive the totality of the physical and digital space of the other unless there is a deliberate act of showing or sharing their screen).

The subjects of the interaction have then to share a common natural language; they have specific ethnomethods available to them to organise their interaction. These shared ethnomethods form the basis of membership (Garfinkel 1967), of belonging to the interactional community. The subjects become “members” of a group by mastering a common language, which also allows for significant silences, allusions and deictics (etc.), which are not intelligible to non-members.

Interactants are guided, moreover, by verbal categories that allow them to identify members, in order to ensure orderly interaction (Mondada 1999, 24). Sacks (1992) develops the concept of membership categorisation devices (MCDs): i.e., categorisation devices that are articulated into collections of categories (for example, “gender” is the collection that usually assembles categories like “female”, “male”, “non-binary”, etc.). The mobilised categorisation devices seem to be particularly “tied to embodied and visible practices of speakers, as well as to their cognitive and interpretative practices” (Greco, Mondada, and Renaud 2014, 88). Although an individual could be categorised using an infinite number of collections, just one is generally viewed as sufficient. All the more so if it allows individuals to establish a dichotomy (“native/non-native”, “rich/poor”, “young/old”): this is the rule of conceptual economy based on the fact that categorisation does not amount to giving a referentially accurate description, but rather a description that is deemed relevant in light of the context of the ongoing activity (Sacks 1992, 47).

In a multi-party, polyartefacted configuration, a dichotomous categorisation may emerge that is verbalised by terminology such as “online/offline”, “on-site/remote”, “over here/over there”. Although potentially perceived as legitimate inasmuch as it is based on the rule of conceptual economy, this categorisation may lead to what we identify as a “dual communitarisation”: i.e., the division of the interactional group into two communities with distinct or even opposed practices, thus potentially giving rise to negative affects. This process of dual communitarisation can be manifested by way of multimodal acts (verbalisation, management of the participation framework, modalities of apprehension of the technical mediation, etc.), whether voluntary or involuntary, explicit or implicit.

In a situation of dual communitarisation, the members of the collective, split into two distinct groups, are thus no longer able to share the same sensory and emotional perceptions, resources and collaborative spaces, communicative modalities, etc. Many of their actions may turn out to be face-threatening (Goffman 1974 ; Brown and Levinson 1978) Check “New norms of politeness in digital contexts”.↩︎. However, maintaining onscreen interactional felicity necessarily implies sharing a common language and making one’s ongoing productions and activities visible and intelligible. Hence, membership categorisation devices (Sacks 1992) have to be used in a way that restores the sense of belonging of all the participants – in all their complementarity – to one and the same community of practices, one and the same interactional group, even if it is in a situation of hybrid communication.

Sequence 3 : “So, I’ll give you a kiss, eh”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

Polyartefacted multimodal communication – and its variants: polyartefacted multimodal interaction, polyartefacted (context) – in the IMPEC seminar

Christelle Combe

The notion of “polyartefacted multimodal communication” was developed from the concepts of “multimodality” and of an “artefact”.

Interpersonal communication (Goffman 1974) is “multimodal” in the broadest sense: i.e., taking into account studies conducted in linguistics on orality (Colletta and Cosnier 2004) and on gesturality (Cosnier et al. 1982) in Conversation Analysis (Mondada 2005), and research in social semiotics (Kress and Leeuwen 2001), as well as in computer-mediated communication (Develotte, Kern, and Lamy 2011) and in the analysis of digital discourse (Paveau 2017).

A key notion in the field of Multimodal Screen Interaction, it emerged in 2015 when Herring, who gave rise to the field of study of “computer-mediated communication”, changed his object of study into “multimodal interactive communication”. Studying “multimodal communication” thus consists of interrelating linguistic, semiotic and techno-discursive forms of information produced in different modalities, each of which contributes to the elaboration and perception of the message communicated in a given community.

As for the term “polyartefacted”, it refers to the notion of “artefact” as defined by Rabardel (1995). The artefact is not a finished instrument; it forms part of usages, of utilisations that contribute in turn to defining it. The use schemas evolve, develop and are concretised by way of transformations of the object and of the action of agents. “Polyartefacted” refers here to the variety of artefacts we used: telepresence robots (Beam or Kubi) and interactive multimodal platform (Adobe Connect), which were themselves operated via multiple screens (of computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.), as well as the different artefacts used in the research apparatus itself (video recording cameras, for example).

The main components of our polyartefacted multimodal communication context

Attentional set-up

Jean-François Grassin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Joséphine Rémon and Caroline Vincent

Laurent Collet (2016, 4) views “the production of digital educational systems both as an enunciation aiming to have an impact on the dispositions of individuals (knowledge, know-how, self-knowledge, etc.) and the social configurations (family, school, business…) to which they belong, and, at the same time, as a sum of activities enunciating the change”. Drawing on this notion and that of attention (Depraz 2014), we define an attentional set-up as a heterogeneous assembly defined by the material construction of space, the objects available, the individuals present, and the mediation of bodies by way of artefacts and telepresence devices (Weissberg 1999) in a mediated space (Gaver 1992).

The totality of the technical artefacts (Rabardel 1995) comprising the attentional set-up aims to promote communication and interaction among individuals in the situated context of the research seminar. The set-up enables interpersonal attention and its mutual allocation; this is why it has to be constructed or reconstructed over time.

In the context of the seminar, the attentional set-up is essential, since roles are dynamically assigned by the technological set-up or by subjects with a certain horizon of expectation (Girel n.d.): the seminar as a social reality preformed by norms, representations and social micro-rituals.

Reifying materialisation effect and personifying materiality effect

Samira Ibnelkaïd

A dual process of personification of the artefact and reification of the animate can be at work in polyartefacted, technobodily mediation. On the one hand, a vocal-gestural attribution of artefactual characteristics to the animate subject on the part of others – reification – and on the other, the vocal-gestural attribution of human characteristics to the subject’s artefact: personification.

  • The first movement, reification, appears to be introduced into the interaction when the other exhorts the artefact to take action, thereby identifying the artefact, whether intentionally or unintentionally, with the subject piloting it. The subject is perceived in the pure materiality of its artefact.

  • In the second movement – personification – as soon as the subject acts upon the artefact, the latter retroacts, and this retroaction perceived by others is assimilated to an autonomous activity of the technical object itself. The artefact perceived to be the subject of the action is attributed an intentionality, an agency of its own. The artefact is apprehended from an anthropomorphic perspective.

These procedures are expressed multimodally (nominal forms of address, verbal categorisations derived from the phenomenon of membership categorisation devices (Sacks 1992), gesturality, modes of moving the artefacts). We can present this process schematically as follows.

Personification and reification

The dual process of reification-personification at work in technobodily polyartefacted mediation exists in a differenciated apprehension of the material.

In the case of the reification of the animate, there is an effect of “materialisation”: a process that involves “using a material in order to give form to an abstraction” (Chatonsky 2015). This involves “instrumentalising matter under the authority of a conceptual enterprise” and its visual presentation aims to “translate digital data into some sort of form (image, sound, etc.)” (Chatonsky 2015), in response to a desire to make an abstraction sensorial.

Séquence 4 : “She’s there, her eye”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

This phenomenon is notably found in the previously analysed sequence 4, “She’s there, her eye”, in which the participant’s senses are verbally materialised in the artefacts when Morgane and Christine explain, “she’s there”, as they point at and touch the webcam, with Morgane adding, “this is her”, and Christine, “her eye”. The webcam is identified as the concrete materialisation of the sense of sight and replaces what is organically attributed to the eyes in a face-to-face physical setting.

In the case of the “materiality” effect, here in a situation of personification of the artefact, we need to conceive of matter as already given and observe the networks woven by it (Chatonsky 2015).

Sequence 2 : “The robot is turning its/his back on me”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

“Amélie, can you move, please?”

This is the case in the previously analysed sequence 2, “The robot is turning its back on me”, in which the robot is given an anthropomorphic materiality by one of the participants, who comments on its material presence and its positioning amid the other subjects and artefacts. When the participant adds “but uh it/he’s going to turn around because in any case it/he’s going to follow the others at some point”, she is referring to the robot’s independence amid the other artefacts and subjects and its agentive and material capacity to navigate this network.

We can present this process schematically as follows.

Materiality and materialisation

During digital interactions, the participants’ multimodal practices give rise, in turns, to:

  • reifying materialisation effects – online subjects perceived as abstract entities are interactionally materialised in the artefact, in the eyes of the other: they become the object itself.

  • personifying materiality effects – inasmuch as the material presence of the technical object masks the underlying human activity, the artefact becomes an agent with intentions in the eyes of the other.

Critical episodes

Caroline Vincent

Dealing with critical episodes involves the co-construction of the collective intelligence of members of the seminar that is studied in the chapter on “Digital bugs and interactional failures in the service of a collective intelligence”.

The concept of “critical incident” was defined in 1954 by the psychologist John Flanagan when proposing the method of the same name (critical incident technique, CIT), in which researchers gather qualitative data by interviewing people who have been confronted with critical incidents (for example, airplane pilots in training tell an instructor about a significant critical event they experienced in order to try together to understand how they dealt with the situation). There has been a debate about the definition ever since. More recently, Leclerc, Bourassa and Filteau (2010) provided a synthesis of the numerous studies that form part of the tradition of the critical incident technique, and they propose the following definition:

a critical incident is an event that may seem innocuous at first, but that turns out to be significant for the subject and for the people with whom this subject interacts in their professional space; the event usually forms part of a difficult situation, and it is perceived as being capable of changing the course of things (2010, 17).

Starting in the 2000s, the emerging field of computer-mediated communication (CMC) took up the analysis dysfunctional moments in remote communication and of interlocutors’ ways of dealing with them, especially in two domains:

  • in the context of synchronous online teaching/learning of languages (Peraya and Viens 2005 ; Guichon 2009 ; Cunningham, Fagersten, and Holmsten 2010 ; Vincent 2012),

  • in workplace studies (Luff, Hindmarsh, and Heath 2000 ; Mondada 2007).

In these two contexts, the communicative process that has been interrupted by the emergence of technical problems takes on an additional role: it is the pedagogical aide of the teacher in the first case and a work aide in the second. This body of research thus looks at the compensatory strategies (Luff, Hindmarsh, and Heath 2000 ; Peraya and Viens 2005) and the new competencies developed by teachers and workers (Guichon 2009 ; Vincent 2012) or at the disruption and organisation of interaction (Luff, Hindmarsh, and Heath 2000 ; Mondada 2007).

There are several different descriptions of these dysfunctional moments during which interlocutors are focused on remediation (“critical events”, “communicative problems”, “critical incidents”, “critical episodes”). Following Guichon (2009), we chose the term “critical episode”, which captures the temporal thickness (2009, 17) and which, in our view, is neutral with regard to what participants feel about their way of experiencing this search for remediation. We thus propose a definition that is both suitable to the type of communication which is specific to our research context and that is enriched by previous studies.

We define critical episodes as moments in which communication for one or more participants, who are unwittingly excluded from the participation framework, has to be re-established in real time. A critical episode occurs, for example, when text, video or sound is no longer available to a participant, thus making the participant’s presence too weak for them to follow the ongoing interaction and to be taken into account by others. Once alerted, the group makes an “empathetic effort” so that the participant can take up the thread of the interaction again.

The stakes are dual in our context: apart from allowing all the participants to actively attend the seminar, the critical episode also gives rise to potential stress that is different for each participant depending on their role in the seminar, their personality, their competencies, their sense of personal efficacy (Bandura 1980) and their confidence in the group’s efficacy in resolving malfunctions.

Technobodily ethnomethods

Samira Ibnelkaïd

The origins of ethnomethodology are to be found in the attempt to understand procedures used by social beings to conduct their daily activities and make them intelligible to others (Garfinkel 1967). These practical actions, which individual incessantly undertake, lead them to give meaning to their world (Psathas 1968) and constitute “ethnomethods” (Garfinkel 1967). The latter allow members of the same collective to share a common understanding of the communicative situation in which they are involved.

During digital interactions, the hybrid ecology of the communicative situation, as well as the volatile nature of digital technology (Vial 2013), unavoidably implies that technical and/or interactional incidents will occur. These incidents lead participants to employ what we identify as “technobodily ethnomethods”: namely, technical procedures (implying familiarity with the artefact and its digital and material affordances) and multimodal procedures (verbalisation, gesturality, facial expressions, etc.) that are intended to avert, circumvent or resolve incidents arising during critical episodesSee also the definition of Co-affordances.↩︎.

On a micro-interactional level, the slightest meaningful gesture – whether technical or linguistic – can constitute a technobodily ethnomethod (a facial expression communicating interactional discomfort, verbalising a technical incident in a written chat, etc.). On a macro-interactional level, drawing on the typology of the collective intelligence apparatus (Levy 2016), we can highlight the technobodily ethnomethods arising from the experience of the participants in this research project and forming recommendations for use.

The aim in the “network of signs” (Levy 2016) is, in particular, to create online collaborative spaces and to propose digital interactional rules (maxims of digital interaction). In the “network of beings” (Levy 2016), participants have to identify specific and complementary roles and to try to develop multimodal attentional competenciesCheck “Attentional affordances in an instrumented seminar”.↩︎, as well as trust and relationship qualityCheck “Digital bugs and interactional failures in the service of collective intelligence”.↩︎. The “network of things” (Levy 2016) is based on a rigorous and thoughtful selection and integration of qualitative artefacts and on a dedicated technical support team, as well as on training participants in the use of the artefactsCheck “Digital bugs and interactional failures in the service of collective intelligence”.↩︎.

Once these technobodily ethnomethods are mastered by the group’s members, interactional failures and digital bugs no longer prevent the group from maintaining an overall interactional felicity. On the contrary, negative affects initially generated by the occurrence of critical episodes give way to the acceptance of their inexorable, but banal, character and to the individuals’ creativity in resolving them one after anotherSee the section “Key points on the subjective experience of participants and recommendations” in the chapter on “Digital bugs and interactional failures in the service of collective intelligence”.↩︎.

Visual reflexive ethology

Christine Develotte and Samira Ibnelkaïd

Visual reflexive ethology is based on the ethology of human communication as defined by Jacques Cosnier (1978 ; 1986 ; 1987): a science of observation of human behaviour paired with an awareness of the feelings and emotions of the subjects observed. Here, we applied this “comprehensive” ethology (éthologie compréhensive, Cosnier dans Hotier 2001) to ourselves (both participants producing spontaneous interactional data and researchers analysing this data). For this reason, we describe our approach as “reflexive”. The notion of reflexivity in social sciences can be defined as “the ability of the subject to consider their own activity in order to analyse its genesis, procedures or consequences” (Bertucci 2009). The reflexive posture entails the need to develop both a capacity for subjective introspection (being able to observe one’s own practices) and a decentring of one’s own perspective (looking critically at one’s practice and approach). Reflexive ethology brings about technical benefits for researchers (access to the field, easy understanding of deictic elements, of spatio-temporal context, of interactional history, etc.). Nonetheless, this approach also gives rise to intersubjective difficulties (self-exposure, group management, interpersonal relationships, levels and modalities of involvement, scholarly rigour and “axiological neutrality” (Weber 1917), etc.). Reflexive ethology thus requires a strong commitment on the part of the researchers involved.

Tools can facilitate reflexive practice by mediating between interactional events and the subjective experience of the “researcher-participants”: this is the case for video recordings in particular. Indeed, the observation and analysis of practices in this research is based on video recordings of interactional data (using digital cameras, dynamic screen captures, video editing software, etc.). The use of video resources in this reflexive ethological and hence “visual” approach can be connected to studies in visual ethnography (Pink 2007 ; Dion 2007). The image, whether static or dynamic, is shown to be both the instrument and the object of research (Dion 2007). Per this logic, video images are not only illustrations, but constitute the material for the collection and analysis of the interactional data, and they are also used semiotically to present the results of these analyses. Various graphic techniques (multicam editing, circling and arrows, zoom-ins, gifs…) provide a visualisation or explicitation of the analyses or the theoretical concepts that were created within the very interaction being studied.

Visual reflexive ethology aims to be a transdisciplinary approach that places multimodality, subjective experience and sensory perception at the heart of interactional analysis, from observation to scholarly dissemination.

Voluntary hypo-exposure, hyper-exposure and over-ratification

Joséphine Rémon, Christelle Combe and Amélie Bouquain

Drawing on the concept of ratification (Goffman 1981), we analyse examples of what we call “over-ratification”: an exposed and undesirable ratification from the point of view of remote participantsCheck “New Norms of Politeness in Digital Contexts”.↩︎. Inasmuch as it sometimes gives rise to “over-ratification”, interactional presence is sometimes contrary to the user’s intention. We define “hyper-exposure” as an individual being given speaking time against their will. “Voluntary hypo-exposition” is covert presence chosen by the user of the artefact. This can be accomplished, for example, by turning off the image or the microphone, or taking control of an artefact without the on-site participants realising.

Instantiation and states of mediation

Samira Ibnelkaïd

The notion of mediation has been extensively studied in social sciences and, more specifically, in the field of information and communication sciences. As stated by Servais, “use of the term mediation arose in research inasmuch as it allows for a critical deconstruction of communication as the transfer or transport of meaning” (Servais 2010, 9). To go beyond these two traditional understandings of communication as transmission or interaction, “a third acceptation is arising that focuses on taking into account the media dimension as such” (Davallon 2003, 37). Mediation turns out to be a “deconstruction of communication” (Servais 2010).

In this sense the notion of mediation offers us an entryway into the analysis of digital presence that constitutes far more than a form of verbal transmission.Artefacted and digital mediation plays a key role in digital interaction:it configures it. In digital interactions, sequences that are subject to defective (in this case, technical) mediation or interpretation of this mediation inevitably arise, and they entail suspending the ordinary course of action.

We identify several stages in the mediation process in a problematic situation. Firstly, there is the demediation phase during which the incident occurs: communication is no longer ensured, and the medium no longer fulfils its role and fails to serve its purposes. Secondly, remediation attempts are made, wherein the incident is dealt with, mediation is repaired, and the medium can be restarted, replaced, or supplemented. Finally, there is immediation as soon as the incident has been resolved: the medium once again fulfils its purposes, and communication is transparent and creates the illusion of immediate communication. Actions are thus undertaken by the interactants to provide technobodily mediation using multimodal and multisemiotic resources.

Moreover, such actions are instantiated during the mediation process by the interactants involved. They embody particular functions at specific moments in the interaction that we identify as follows.

  • Sentinels ensure widespread presence and flag mediation incidents to the procurators. They are on the lookout for signs of demediation.

  • Procurators are at the heart of the mediation system and ensure the presence of the interactants in technobodily terms. They operate the remediation process.

  • Witnesses attend the interactional event and contribute to extended presence without directly intervening. They benefit from immediation.

The identification of these instances and states of mediation enables us to better understand the practical technobodily modalities of presence within the hybrid communication apparatus.

Sequence 4: “She’s there, her eye”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification.

Artefacted intercorporeality (extension of corporeal schema and transsubjective gesture)

Samira Ibnelkaïd

The phenomenological approach is based on the desire to “explicate the sense this world has for us all, prior to any philosophizing, and obviously gets solely from our experience” (Husserl 1929, 129; and English translation: 1960). And our experience of the world is unavoidably attached to, and configured by, our corporeality.

The body is defined in a phenomenological sense as “the latent horizon of our experience, itself ceaselessly present prior to all determining thought” (Merleau-Ponty 1945, 109). The body is the “vehicle of being in the world” (Merleau-Ponty 1945, 97; and English translation: 2012, 84). The subject’s body serves as the mediator of its relationship to the world and to the objects around it.

The subject’s apprehension of their body in the world and of the position of each of their limbs occurs by way of a “corporeal schema(Merleau-Ponty 1945, 114). This corporeal schema is not a matter of a simple summary of corporeal experiences, but rather an “overall awareness of my posture in the inter-sensory world, a ‘form’” (Merleau-Ponty 1945, 116). The thinking subject is thus based on the embodied subject. It should be noted that the use that the subject makes of their body transcends their merely biological body. For humans, indeed, “everything is constructed and everything is natural, in the sense that there is no single word or behavior that does not owe something to mere biological being – and at the same time, there is no word or behavior that does not break free from animal life” (Merleau-Ponty 1945, 220–21; and English translation: 2012, 195).

Corporeality represents the locus of the subject’s experience (Hastrup 1995, 3). And this experience appears to be shared with others and the subject’s artefacted environment. The extension of the subject’s sensory experience to others constitutes intercorporeality. Merleau-Ponty outlined the phenomenon of intercorporeality in his last working notes:

There is here no problem of the alter ego because it is not I who sees, not he who sees, because an anonymous visibility inhabits both of us, a vision in general… What is open to us, therefore… is – if not yet the incorporeal – at least an intercorporeal being, a presumptive domain of the visible and the tangible, which extends further than the things I touch and see at present (Merleau-Ponty 1964a, 185; and English translation: 1968, 142–43).

The self and the other coexist in a shared being-in-the-world, they are “like organs of one single intercorporeality(Merleau-Ponty 1960, 274; and English translation: 1964b, 168).

Furthermore, if the body of the subject and that of the other form a single intercorporeality, objects are not left out and participate in this network of intersubjective perception to the extent that “our organs of perception are found both inside and outside, they are also to be included among the things through which we gain access to a specific dimension of a being’s radiation” (Penayo 2016, 85).

In digital interactions, subjects coordinate and cooperate among themselves and with the artefacts, both explicitly and implicitly. Gesturality is thus shared. There is an extension of the corporeal schema through the artefacts and the other subjects involved in the interaction and in how each of the participants enacts their presence. The aim is not only to introduce intersubjectivity into the corporeal schema that is extended to the other, but also a form of transubjectivity inasmuch as it goes beyond and cuts across technology and distance. The – technical and/or linguistic – interactional gesture becomes transsubjective. Bodies become one, in order to interact in a complex technobodily network.

Onscreen presence is thus the result of the multisemiotic, multimodal and sensory expression of artefacted subjects and involves the flesh and its extensions. The subjects are sentient beings who co-construct themselves in interaction by equipping themselves with technologies that allow them to overcome physical distance and to appear in multiple and reticular spatio-corporeal configurations. The subjects thus make themselves present to each other by way of an artefacted intercorporeality that enacts a world they share in common: an “interworld(Merleau-Ponty 1964a, 317).

Artefacted intercorporeality

Sequence 4: “She’s there, her eye”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

Attentional markers

Jean-François Grassin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Joséphine Rémon and Caroline Vincent

We define flagging attentional markers as the action of seeking attention through speech or gesture via a strong or weak signal (Rouby and Thomas 2014). The marker seeks to trigger “mutually explicit” attention to affordances(Depraz 2014) at a given moment. The marker is then taken up spontaneously, according to each participant’s role, and contextual and temporal priorities, for example when a participant in the seminar signals a problem in the chat or orally.

Flagging attentional markers reveals attentional co-affordances, which in turn allow co-presence (Piette 2008) and attentional orchestration (Kershner 2016).

Maxims for screen-based interactions

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Grice’s “conversational maxims” are statements based on the principle of cooperation, implying that conversational contribution corresponds to what is demanded at the present stage by the goal or the accepted direction of the spoken exchange in which participants are involved (Grice 1979, 61), the rules of conduct that social subjects implicitly apply. Based on observation of face-to-face conversations, Grice (1979, 61–62) proposes nine maxims, divided into four categories as follows:

  • Quantity maxims
    • That your contribution contains as much information as is required (for the conjunctural purposes of the exchange).
    • That your contribution does not contain more information than is required.
  • Quality maxims
    • Do not claim what you believe to be false.
    • Do not claim what you lack evidence for.
  • Relationship maxim
    • Be pertinent.
  • Maxims of manners
    • Avoid expressing yourself in an obscure way.
    • Avoid being ambiguous.
    • Be brief (do not be more verbose than necessary).
    • Be methodical.

In studying this polyartefacted seminar, we have defined “maxims for digital interactions”. These new rites of digital politeness that we observed can be stated in the form of recommendations to be implemented in order for interaction to go smoothly, and they contribute to learning a new “culture of hybrid interaction”.

Addressing maxim

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Address people by their name or first name, turn toward the person when talking to them, face the robot or the camera of the interactive multimodal platform, adjust your gaze.

In each multimodal context involving participants connected remotely via artefacts or a videoconferencing platform, every remote participant should be addressed or referred to by their name, their first name or their academic title.

Maxim of interactional closing

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Close the interaction with all the participants and across all the artefacts, do not disconnect suddenly.

During artefacted multimodal communication, rites of closure of the interaction are needed to thank participants and say goodbye, just like in the case of interactions with people who are physically present, in order to avoid abruptly ending the exchanges by disconnecting suddenly.

Maxim of communication

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

When a channel malfunctions (audio, microphone, camera), remember to use the other channels (chat, camera, messaging), keep an eye on each space regularly, remember to turn off your microphone when you are not speaking.

During multimodal artefacted communication, the channel of communication can sometimes fail depending on the quality of the participants’ connection. Some of the technological artefacts used require greater bandwidths to work. A participant can thus be disconnected or encounter technical difficulties (distorted image, distorted sound, etc.). The different interactive spaces should thus be monitored, in order to identify the technical problems encountered and to decide if they can be resolved with help, to check whether participants have been disconnected or if some are asking to speak, etc. Other channels of communication can then be used, so as not to interrupt or disturb the ongoing interaction. Finally, for the sake of the comfort of interaction and in order to avoid audio interference, it is recommended that everyone turns off their microphone and only turns it on when speaking.

Maxim of movement (an artefact)

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Ask the artefact user’s permission before moving or adjusting an artefact.

In each multimodal context involving participants connected remotely via artefacts or a videoconferencing platform, users should be asked for their permission before moving their artefacts or platforms, for instance, turning off the microphone or camera, moving the artefact into a work group on a platform like Adobe Connect or reorienting their Beam or Kubi robot. The risk is that of confronting users with a fait accompli, sometimes creating an effect of surprise and/or discomfort or forcing them to reconfigure the settings of their artefact, and thus being impolite.

Maxim of interactional opening

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Connect 15 minutes before the interaction commences, enter the “interactional ground” (Ibnelkaïd 2015).

Setting up a polyartefacted seminar, or any other apparatus involving remotely connected participants, requires advanced preparation, in particular with regard to managing the technical aspects of the different artefacts used (video-conferencing software, telepresence robots, etc.). Careful management of these technologies can sometimes provide ways of resolving connection problems. Provision should thus be made for a prior connection time, as well as configurations and settings of the different artefacts, to allow the interaction to begin at the scheduled time.

Participants maxim

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Introduce all the interlocutors present by name, including those who are not visible on the screens (or off-screen).

All participants should be introduced during multimodal artefacted communication, and not only those who are present in the same place. Not introducing all the participants is perceived as impolite and would amount to denying their presence or even committing a FTA (a Face Threatening Act). In order to rectify this, a round of introductions can be done systematically.

Platform maxim

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Connect all participants to the same platform with the same rights and ask them to be individually responsible for their camera and audio (microphone and sound).

During multimodal artefacted communication, using a videoconferencing platform and connecting users to it should be done taking into consideration its characteristics and the spheres of interactionBy “sphere of interaction”, we mean the space that is open to the interactions that the artefact allows. Interaction can thus take place in this space, and be characterized as inter or still intra, when the interaction is taking place in spaces of intersection between different spheres (when several artefacts are being used): for example, when a computer connected to video conferencing software is used for a whole on-site group, which integrates the artefacts present in the seminar room, such as the Beam and Kubi telepresence robots. Check “New norms of politeness in digital contexts”.↩︎ enabled by it. Is the platform a group (room-to-room) videoconferencing platform? Are the venues hosting the video conference adequately equipped with video, microphone and audio systems? Does the video-conferencing platform involve individual connections? In this case, does each participant have the necessary equipment (computer with a camera, a headset, etc.)? It is better to avoid using individual connection video-conferencing platforms for group connectionsThus, in our case, the Adobe Connect platform was probably not the most suitable.↩︎. Finally, it is advisable to give the same rights to all participants and for them to independently manage their camera and audio system, thus facilitating interaction and freeing the moderator of the video conference from the responsibility of having to manage them or avoiding delegating this function to a third person.

In effect, this function can turn out to be time-consuming and detrimental to the ability of this person to follow the session, when they find themself entirely focused on dealing with the technical aspects of the other participants. Participants’ autonomy with regard to this aspect makes a major contribution to the fluidity of the interaction.

Silence maxim

Amélie Bouquain, Christelle Combe and Tatiana Codreanu

Learn to accept moments of silence and tolerate breaks that can sometimes be long.

Technology will have an impact on the fluidity of the interaction during multimodal artefacted communication. Interactions can sometimes be slowed down: for example, if someone calls on a participant who has not asked to speak, the participant might need some time to think before responding. And even if someone gives speaking time to a participant who has asked for it, it will take some time to turn on the microphone and audio system before the participant can speak. Silences and breaks are an integral part of all multimodal artefacted communication. They thus have to be accepted and should not be a cause of anxiety.

Identity posture of legitimacy

Jean-François Grassin

The identity posture of legitimacy relates to the construction of the identity of junior researchers, which is studied in the chapter on “Research training in a polyartefacted doctoral seminar”. As the world of research is making increasing use of technology, it appears necessary to raise the question of the competencies constructed in interaction by its actors and in particular the youngest of them. In order to understand the process of construction of the junior researcher’s ethos, we propose the situated concept of the “identity posture of legitimacy”.

The concept of identity posture draws on the notion of professional ethos that Jorro defines as:

The way in which [people] organise their relationship to the professional world, how they define and redefine their field of action with respect to an ethical approach to the activity (Jorro 2009).

On this definition, the ethos borders on a quest for identity. Identity is understood here as constructed, produced, formed or developed in every social interaction (Lahire 2001 ; Moje and Luke 2009). The doctoral seminar is the venue of a social process of identity construction which results from the acquisition of certain roles that are sensitive to the collaborative and polyartefacted character of a situation. This identity construction is embodied within a variety of postures. We preferred the notion of posture to that of role in our study:

Whereas the role is virtually defined in advance and imposes a certain type of behaviour, the posture consists of an agile identity that is adapted to the context (Jorro 2009, 6).

Moreover, we link the notion of posture to that of legitimacy, notably by reference to the work of Lave and Wenger (1991) on novice participants in communities of practice. The development of identity is influenced by the agency and power that individuals acquire through their experience in different events (Lewis 2007). Actors always have need of legitimation and self-verification in this process.

The concept of an identity posture of legitimacy is defined as an identity positioning that aims at participation and that relies on a process of social legitimation in-situated action. This concept makes the construction of a professional ethos observable and takes artefacted situations into account.

Within our case study, we have identified three identity postures of legitimacy, giving the doctoral student legitimacy in the situation. These identity postures evolve as students implement both scientific and technical competencies:

  • a posture based on the legitimacy of presence, which we call “on-site legitimacy posture”; this first posture situates legitimacy along a present/not-present axis. We here conceive of presence as practice. Postures of legitimacy are enacted in this practice which calls on socio-scientific-technical competencies that should be enacted in seminars. The practice is discursively expressed by one’s own and others’ perception of one’s legitimacy in the group. Being present is, in particular, being able to defend one’s legitimacy. The posture of legitimacy is established via socio-technical competencies that allow individuals to make themselves present to others (ego-centric posture), to make all the members of the group present to oneself (exo-centric posture), or also via a posture at the interface between groups (group interface posture). Most of the time, these three postures are combined in the dynamics of polyartefacted interactions. In a polyartefacted situation, on-site legitimacy is constructed in a relationship to others who may be more or less artefacted, but who always construct themselves in relation to the artefacts involved in the situation.

  • a posture based on scientific legitimacy which we call “epistemic legitimacy posture”. I dentity posture is thematised in discourses along a “competent/incompetent” axis in scientific matters. This posture gives a participant the right to participate in scientific discussions. This is perhaps the least situation-specific form of legitimacy.

  • a posture based on the legitimacy of the relationship to the other, which demands reliability and which we call a “pragmatic legitimacy posture”. This identity posture puts the emphasis on cooperation and trust. Participation is legitimated in an identity posture that emphasises relationships and situates doctoral identity on a reliable/unreliable axis. This posture entails being able to act in the polyartefacted situation.

Participation stems from the dynamic construction of identity resulting from these three postures of legitimacy: it involves asserting one’s legitimacy in the group by being present to others and to oneself in order to construct shared knowledge about the situation and to act within the polyartefacted (research) apparatus.

The notion of posture of legitimacy is particularly useful since it focuses our attention on both interpersonal experience (the process of legitimation in group experience) and intrapersonal experience (gaining awareness of idealised role identity) (Jazvac‐Martek 2009). In the context of a training programme in-situations of polyartefactual interaction, the notion allows us to establish a reflexive framework for thinking about the junior researcher’s ability to act on the basis of these identity postures, taking into account the specificity of the polyartefactual situation. By multiplying the role identities that doctoral students can embody, the “Digital presence” project constitutes a benevolent set-up for mediation (Belin 1999). Participation depends on the idea of “building dispositions” in Belin’s (1999) sense of “an act of disposing of something, of adopting dispositions” in an environment. The on-site posture is a set-up rationale that entails paying attention to others in order to make oneself present within the collective. Pragmatic identity is the enactment of gestures that form the apparatus – or “dispositif” in our original French.

In the case of the doctoral students whose postures we analyse, this takes place via the assertion of socio-technical competencies, which allow the student either to make herself present to others (Amélie) or to make all the members of the group present (Dorothée), or to take up a role identity as an interface between the groups (Morgane). Whereas the other doctoral students thematise their position in the seminar along a present/not present or legitimate/not legitimate axis, Morgane adopts an identity posture that puts the emphasis on cooperation and trust. This role appears in her discourse by way of numerous references to other members in an identity posture that highlights the relational dimension and places doctoral identity along a reliable/unreliable axis.

Artefactual presence, participatory autonomy

Joséphine Rémon, Christelle Combe and Amélie Bouquain

Starting from the concept of presence in distance learning (Jézégou 2010 ; Peraya 2014 ; 2011 ; D. R. Garrison, Anderson, and Archer 1999 ; D. Garrison and Anderson 2011 ; D. R. Garrison and Arbaugh 2007 ; D. Garrison and Archer 2007), we distinguish between artefactual presence and interactional presence. Presence is artefactual when the characteristics of the artefact are invested and used by participants in a situation to the detriment of the user of the artefact. For instance, when a participant moves the Beam telepresence device by grasping its frame, for a short time the artefact and its pilot are not considered as an integral part of the interaction, but rather as obstructions to the view of the on-site participants and as a movable, non-autonomous object.

The technical choices made and the possibilities offered by each device have implications in terms of participation and autonomy. Echoing the notion of participation framework (Goffman 1987), we understand “participatory autonomy” as the ability of the individual to regulate their involvement: to intervene in the discussion, to turn on or off the sound, to move to a different place to be able to participate more. This participatory autonomy also depends on the individual’s competencies in exploiting the possibilities offered by the device. Sometimes, participants discover certain possibilities only after several sessions of piloting the artefact.

Stealth presence

Joséphine Rémon, Christelle Combe and Amélie Bouquain

Presence is defined as stealth in the military sense (“such as a plane built in order to evade radar detection”) when it is not detected by the other participants. This undetectable presence is conveyed by the affordances of the different artefacts in an environment. If someone is sitting behind the Beam robot for example, then they can’t see when the Beam pilot launches her connection. Similarly, when the Beam pilot uses the “zoom” function, the other participants are not aware of this. Not only did they not know that this functionality existed, but also the functionality gives no external clue when it is activated.

Collective, artefactual and transindividual attentional regimes

Jean-François Grassin, Mabrouka El Hachani, Joséphine Rémon and Caroline Vincent

This phrase refers to the definition of joint attention (or co-attention) by Citton:

Several individuals, aware of the presence of others, interact in real time according to what they perceive of the attention of the other participants (Citton 2014, 127).

Regimes (Teil 2012, 28) that we call collective artefacted transindividual and attentional are defined as stabilised (or stabilising) modes of allocating attentional resources that cannot be constructed independently from the group and the artefacts. These complex organisations go beyond simply adding up individual ways of behaving.

Addressing regimes, artefactual regimes, availability to be addressed

Joséphine Rémon, Christelle Combe and Amélie Bouquain

Within the polyartefacted seminar, participation is regulated through regimes (Teil 2012, 28) that we define as artefactual because they are dependent on the artefact or telepresence device being used, and their specifications or potentialities in terms of interaction.

Among these regimes we identify an addressing regime that involves ways of addressing someone in order to interact with them. We consider addressing (or interpellation in French) as defined by Mellet (2010) as expressing the need to be taken into account in the addressee’s field of perception, and wanting the addressee to interrupt their current action. The addressee does not acknowledge the speaker, at that moment, in absentia vis-à-vis the speaker, and already engaged in an action or interaction.

The addressing regime is determined by the affordances and their co-construction, namely the different levels of autonomy, involving movement and audio-visual autonomy. For instance, the Beam pilot functions within a degraded addressing regime when participants are sitting behind the robot.

Availability to be addressed is the possibility of being signalled verbally or through gestures by other participants. This capacity can be reduced due to the specificities of the artefacts: the Beam telepresence device, for instance, has no visibility on the space behind it. For a participant sitting behind the Beam, it is difficult to draw the pilot’s attention.

Technobodily Networks and Resources

Samira Ibnelkaïd

With the advent of new technologies, some perceive the body as “an undignified archaeological vestige that is destined to disappear” (Le Breton 2001, 20). In this view, the body “is being transformed into a superfluous organ that is hindering the emergence of a humanity (which some are already calling posthumanity) that has finally managed to rid itself of all these hindrances, the most dismal of which is the burden of the body” (Le Breton 2001, 20). Equipped with ever more varied means of communication, the subject no longer necessarily has to have a so-called “physical” and “obsolete” encounter (Le Breton 2001, 23).

The relationship between the body and technologies attracts fascination and concern insofar as it evokes the myth of a spirit that is separated from the body, of an artificial being that the savant would be able to create, of perfect communication without misunderstanding (Flichy 2009, 11). According to Casilli (2009), we are facing a crisis of sensibility of the body. The concept of crisis refers here to the Greek word meaning “passage, transition between two eras” and that of the sensibility of the body to “all the attitudes, discourses and imaginary representations regarding the body that shape and legitimate its practices” (Casilli 2009). This crisis of sensibility of the body implies a tension between two different ways of relating to the body: namely, the tension between a biomechanical view inherited from modernity and a virtual view of the body that comes from postmodernity (Casilli 2012, 6). This crisis of the body is taking on even greater importance to the extent that the limits of the body “map out the moral and significant order of the world on their scale” (Le Breton 2001, 26). This is why thinking the body is in a way equivalent to thinking the world and social connection: “perturbing the configuration of the body perturbs the coherence of the world” (Le Breton 2001, 26).

Contrary to the idea of a postmodern disappearance of the body and Cartesian mind-body dualism, Frias argues that with the advent of digital technology, the corporeality of the individual is certainly transfigured, but remains a “key symbolic vector” in digital exchanges (Frias 2004, 2). If digital technology indeed involves “immaterial elements” – virtual images and texts – the latter can only be produced digitally: namely, through materiality and touch, the fingers of our hands and tactile sensation. This is why digital interaction brings together three entities: the technology, the intellect and the sensory; the artefactual, the conceptual and the corporeal (Frias 2004, 6). And the screen, which is tactile, visual and audible, is an illustration of this. Thus, “due to the porosity of the interfaces, the flesh of the subject and the body of the object become interpenetrated with one another in an inextricable hybridisation” (Frias 2004, 6). Digitalisation “requires a new way of listening to the body, it demands original research into sensations and forms of appearance” (Casilli 2009, 2). Ultimately, the body is at the very centre of digital society (Casilli 2009, 2), it is the instrument of a hybridisation between the real and the virtual (Flichy 2009, 12).

What happens with the advent of digitalisation is a complex hybridisation between thought and gesture, between the computer-object and the user-subject who deploys a skilful and unsystematic know-how, which depends on indefiniteness, on the more-or-less, on creative improvisation as much as on routines […] Far from disappearing, the body becomes virtual by redeploying its lines, its limits and its mode of social being (Frias 2004, 10).

Moreover, technological tools do not work ex nihilo – their use requires a corporeal subject. The body associated with digital interfaces allows for an enaction of meaningful sensory-motor activity in an artefactual universe. This is why it seems essential to us, in trying to understand digital interactions, to pay particular attention to what we identify as technobodily resources: namely, the hybridisation of multimodal linguistic resources related to corporeality (verbal, gestures, facial expressions, gazes, postures) and multisemiotic resources related to technologies and media (materiality of artefacts, affordances, images, graphs, videos, links, techno-discursivity) and that are called upon by interactants to make themselves present to one another.

Sequence 2: “The robot is turning its/his back on me”

For an analysis of this sequence, check “Artefacted intercorporeality, between reification and personification”.

The polyartefactual doctoral seminar

Develotte and al.

The outcome of this volume is a definition of the impact of polyartefaction on a particular research situation.

The polyartefacted doctoral seminar is a research situation that combines scientific work and training and in which polyartefaction conditions, frames and shapes participants’ communication and collaboration. The polyartefacted doctoral seminar is a situated event that thus is defined simultaneously by the activity, the communicative intentions, and the material and artefactual arrangements made by participants. The seminar is the venue of the co-construction of a form of collective intelligence (Levy 2016) made possible by the collaborative, reflexive and reasoned management of the network of things (equipment and power), the network of beings (people and ethics) and the network of signs (messages and knowledge). The participants in the polyartefactual doctoral seminar, both novices and experienced researchers, develop a common perception of the socio-technical issues and an implicit awareness of the network dynamics underlying the emergence of a form of collective intelligence and based on the complementarity of the members and their confidence in their ability to cooperateCheck “Digital bugs and interactional failures in the service of collective intelligence”.↩︎.

The seminar is a situation of polyartefacted communication in the sense that multimodal communicative activity is mediated by a variety of artefacts operated via multiple screens and that constitute an attentional set-up for collaborative purposes. The linguistic, semiotic and techno-discursive information produced in different modalities have to be processed by way of chains of distributed agency that expand the linguistic, technical and sensory field of action of the participants.

One of the most essential conditions of its implementation is thus the construction of a heterogeneous attentional set-up that provides the conditions for the interpersonal attention required for a collective and distributed understanding of each participant’s possibilities of action (co-affordances).

Aiming at collaboration, the polyartefacted doctoral seminar involves an ethic of benevolence (Belin 1999), which allows peers to deploy postures of legitimacy among themselves. These postures will rely on processes of resonance, empathySee the definition of Chain of distributed agency.↩︎ and attention to others which are challenged by polyartefaction. The different regimes of address maxims of interaction and attentional markers that we have studied in this book thus condition such postures.

As a training apparatus, the polyartefacted doctoral seminar promotes a form of learning by acting and acting in real time and in collaboration with others, as well as training researchers as “interdisciplinary natives” (Darbellay 2017, 4). As a research space, the polyartefacted seminar is a practice that develops a culture and competencies that are conducive to a scholarly ethic of attentiveness to others.

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