Professor Emeritus of Communications
Professor Miller's teaching and research mainly concern new media and political culture. He has a long interest in media technology, including laws and policies relating to freedom of expression across various media. Recently, he has been contributing to the development of mediatization theory with a focus on emerging digital media, exploring near-term future trends of increasingly intelligent environments characterized by dispersed media. This has led him to historical research on the automobile as a case study of the mediatization of space, from user-installed AM radios to autonomous vehicles. His earliest new media research concerned the internet predecessor videotex, known in France as Minitel. Miller's involvement in radio (he worked in FM during his student days and twice served on an NPR-affiliate board) includes international comparative studies of community radio and study of the commercialization of French national radio.
Miller is interested in the changing experience of citizenship, which is increasingly more popular-cultural than overtly political. He also studies the use of culture in international relations as an exercise of soft power. And he has analyzed critically a form of Western foreign aid known as media assistance, which exports U.S. journalistic norms and practices as part of the "democratizing" process in post-communist, post-conflict, and post-colonial societies. He has also written about mainstream American journalism as an example of cultural modernism.
Miller’s published work has appeared in such major journals as Media, Culture and Society; Journal of Communication; European Journal of Communication; Global Media and Communication; Mobile Media and Communication; Association for Computing Machinery; and Nieman Reports as well as in edited volumes, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Turkish. Miller chaired an annual international conference on telecommunications policy research, and edited its proceedings, published by Elsevier.
His research has been supported by the Canadian government, the Whiting Foundation, and IREX, among others. He has been a short-term fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Fulbright researcher in Paris.
Miller is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, the European Communication Research and Education Association, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Society for Social Studies of Science. He has been visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab and at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is a member of the graduate faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Every society offers public rituals, formal instruction and places of sacred memory whose purpose is to foster a common political identity like citizenship and nationalism. Some of these devices appear natural and timeless; others are obviously invented. Some exist in peaceful periods; others are meant to galvanize people for organized action and warfare. This course, whose focus is the contemporary US, introduces their analysis. Students will lead the discussion of readings, write a couple of brief essays and present a final project.
Most media - a book as well as a smartphone - are mobile. And mobility increasingly involves media: think GPS and real time bus schedules. Not surprisingly, the previously separate fields of media studies and mobility studies are becoming frequent collaborators. This course will explore this exciting new interdisciplinary area. Our focus will be on such media/mobility examples as wearable media, geomedia (GPS), travel, autonomous and shared vehicles. Students will design and carry out a semester-long project that applies theoretical knowledge to some practical or policy-oriented matter. This might involve, for example, a study of the Five College bus system or the management of traffic flows at a sports venue or observation of airport behavior.
Soft power refers to forms of international relations that are not militaristic or otherwise coercive - or "hard." The usual means of soft power are cultural ones, including what is called public diplomacy. Nation-states increasingly brand themselves (the Danes are the happiest people on earth), foster exportable experience economies (EuroDisney), and produce globally circulating news (Voice of America). National regions, corporations, religions and NGOs all engage in similar behavior. The goal is a kind of impression management, creating favorable public opinion abroad toward a way of life, a product or a geographic place. These activities, which blur the private and public sectors, raise important questions about propaganda, cultural imperialism and other issues that are often difficult to untangle from strictly economic and geo-political matters. Students will lead the discussion of readings, write a couple of brief essays and present a final project.
Drivers began installing radios in their cars in the early 1920s. Today, cars are called "rolling computers." In between, more numerous and more sophisticated media were steadily designed into the automobile, making it a uniquely mobile zone of media consumption as well as being a principal means of modern, private travel. In this tutorial, we will address two questions: What can we say about the long history of media in cars, and so what? That is, what does this history tell us about other aspects of life and about the emerging mobile-media future, especially autonomous vehicles? Students will have various responsibilities, not least the development of a semester-long project that addresses some aspect of our two questions.