Conner, Thomas and Sigrid Schmalzer. 2018. "Technology." In Alyssa Botelho, Daniel S. Chard & Sigrid Schmalzer (Eds.), Science for the People: Documents from America’s Movement of Radical Scientists, 1969-1989. Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press.
Conner, Thomas. 2016. "Hatsune Miku, 2.0Pac and Beyond: Rewinding and Fast-forwarding the Virtual Pop Star." In Whiteley, S. & Rambarran, S. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. New York & London: Oxford Univ. Press.
Conner, Thomas. 2007. "Getting Along: Woody Guthrie and Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Musicians." In Davis Joyce (Ed.), Alternative Oklahoma: Contrarian Views of the Sooner State (pp. 87-112). Norman, Okla.: Univ. of Okla. Press.
Conner, Thomas. 2020. "Pepper’s Ghost and the Augmented Reality of Modernity." Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 3 (1): 57–79.
Conner, Thomas. 2015. "‘Our Unseen Friend’: Early Radio and the Tuning In of Woody Guthrie’s Performing Persona." Woody Guthrie Annual, 1 (1): 18-40.
Conner, Thomas and Steve Jones. 2014. "Art to Commerce: The Trajectory of Popular Music Criticism." IASPM@Journal (International Association for the Study of Popular Music), 4 (2).
Conner, Thomas. 2002. "Dear Reader: A Pop Critic Responds to the Day’s Mail." ARTicles, 7: 138-149.
Conner, Thomas. 2019. Review of Robot Rights by David J. Gunkel, New Media & Society, January.
Conner, Thomas. 2016. Review of Feed-Forward: On the Future of Twenty-First-Century Media by Mark B.N. Hansen, JHistory, H-Net Reviews, December.
Conner, Thomas. 2014. Review of Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism by Devon Powers, H-1960s; H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences, April.
Conner, Thomas. 2014. Review of How Does It Feel? Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll by Grant Maxwell, H-1960s; H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences, November.
Conner, Thomas, John Wooley, and Mark Brown. 1999. Forever Lounge: A Laid-Back Guide to the Languid Sounds of Lounge Music. Iola, Wisc.: Antique Trader Publications. (Read a chapter here)
— Other research
Conner, Thomas. 2001. “From Instinct to Intuition: Tracking Woody’s HD.” Paper and notes commissioned by the Woody Guthrie Archives and now part of its collection. (archives have moved; article link to be restored soon)
Nominated by UCSD communication and computer science faculty to attend (funded) the 2016 Human Computer Interaction Consortium conference, June 26-30, 2016, at Pajaro Dunes, Watsonville, Calif.
Research fellowship at the one-time conference/reunion of Science for the People, April 11-13, 2014, at UMass-Amherst. Assisted in collection of historical materials and research. Publication projects in process.
Conner, Thomas. 2020. "Pepper's Ghost and the Augmented Reality of Modernity." ZOOMPOSIUM: Performance, Science & Technology, a virtual conference organized by the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Nov. 27, online.
Jones, Steve, Andrea Guzman, Thomas Conner & Ekaterina Pashevich. 2020. "Human-Machine Communication: Ethical Perspectives," a panel at AoIR 2020, Oct. 5, online.
Conner, Thomas. 2020. "The Gesture of Holography." Invited to join the panel "Holographic Art and the Animated Image: Histories and Conservation" at the College Art Association's annual conference, Feb. 12, Chicago.
Conner, Thomas, Songyi Lee, et al. 2018. "Presence in Practice: A Discussion About Presence via Telepresence Tech." One of a dozen discussants on this panel of worldwide scholars assembled virtually for the attendees at the PRESENCE 2018 annual conference, May 21, Prague.
Conner, Thomas. 2017. "Holopresence: A theory for augmented modernity." Presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, May 27, San Diego.
Conner, Thomas. 2017. "Holopresence: A theory for augmented modernity." Presented at the biennial UCSD Science Studies Graduate Conference, May 19, UCSD, San Diego.
Conner, Thomas. 2017. "Holograms: Historical Ghosts in the Machines." Presented at the History of Science Graduate Student Seminar, Feb. 25, UCLA, Los Angeles.
Conner, Thomas. 2016. "'Our Unseen Friend’: Early Radio and the Tuning In of Woody Guthrie’s Performing Persona." Presented at the Woody Guthrie Symposium, April 30, The Univ. of Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.
Conner, Thomas. 2015. "All Eyez on Me: Virtual Performers and New Media Memories." Presented at 2015 Cultural Studies Assoc. 13th annual Cultural Studies Conference, May 21-24, Riverside, Calif.
Conner, Thomas. 2014. "Hatsune Miku and the Design of the Virtual Pop Star." Presented at the 4S / ESOCITE Joint Meeting, Aug. 20-23, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Conner, Thomas. 2014. "Virtual Pop Stars and the Digitization of Performance." Presented at Theorizing the Web 2014, April 25-26, New York City.
Conner, Thomas. 2013. "Hatsune Miku and the Design of the Virtual Pop Spectacle." Presented at 2013 Cultural Studies Assoc. 11th annual Cultural Studies Conference, May 23-26, Chicago.
Conner, Thomas. 2012. "An Unaccompanied Movement?: Listening for Protest Songs at Occupy Wall Street." Presented at the National Communication Association conference, Nov. 15-18, 2012, in Orlando, Fla.
Conner, Thomas. 2012. "Rei Toei Lives!: Hatsune Miku and the Design of the Virtual Pop Star." Presented at VisCom 26 (visual communication conference), June 20-24, 2012, in Midway, Utah.
Conner, Thomas. 2012. "Oklahoma's Red Dirt Music and Its Debt to Woody." Presented at the Woody at One Hundred: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration, 1912-2012, March 10, 2012, at the Univ. of Tulsa (Okla.).
Public lectures & speaking
Conner, Thomas. 2015. Keynote address. Presented at the awarding of the inaugural Changing World Prize, Oct. 11, 2015, at the Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Conner, Thomas. 2012. "Woody@100: One Life, Many Legacies." Presented Oct. 19, 2012, at St. Xavier Univ., Chicago.
UCSD Institute of Arts & Humanities, 2018. Research grant.
Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (LCHC)
— UC-San Diego, 2013-2018
A member of this lab and discussion group (founded by Mike Cole). It was in the lab where I presented myself as a hologram simulation experiment in June 2013.
Radio Preservation Task Force
— Library of Congress, 2014-2015
Assisting in finding and networking archives of programming for this project, the goal of which was to locate and chronicle materials from local, regional, noncommercial, and uncategorized radio broadcasts.
Supervising professor: John McMurria, UC-San Diego
CCIT Lab: Creative and Collaborative Information Technology
— Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 2012-2014
CCIT was an interdisciplinary group of researchers conducting surveys of workplaces to determine the extent to which social media applications are redefining roles and behaviors within the office environment. My contribution to this was considerable historical research on the impacts of technologies within the American workplace.
Supervising professor: Steve Jones, UIC
— Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) @ Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 2012-2013
A project from a Human Augmentics class grew into a larger effort within the EVL: This group studied the effects of dilated audio (recordings slowed down without loss of pitch) on attention tasks, as well as created software that dilated two-way transmitted audio in real time. My contributions involved research of audio and attention, and the conducting of experiments with human subjects using test audio during attention tasks.
Supervising professors: Robert Kenyon and Jason Leigh, UIC; Valeriy Shafiro, Rush Univ. Hospital
Digital music and creativity
— Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 2012
Research of scholarship and media to examine how advances in digital music technologies have affected not commercial output or consumer listening experience but the actual artistic process of creating music.
Supervising professor: Steve Jones, UIC
Ad hoc peer reviewer for New Media & Society, 2014-present.
Ad hoc peer reviewer for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 2019-present.
Annual paper reviewer for the Western States Communication Association, 2016-present.
Current Ph.D. student in Communication (Science Studies)
at the Univ. of California-San Diego
Adviser: David Serlin
— Target completion: May 2021
M.A. in Communication
at the Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 2013
Adviser: Steve Jones
— Thesis: "Rei Toei Lives!: Hatsune Miku and the Design of the Virtual Pop Star," December 2013
B.A. in Mass Communication
Univ. of Oklahoma, 1993
National Arts Journalism Program Fellow
— Columbia University, 2000 to 2001
Two graduate-level semesters in conjunction with a professional fellowship.
Researched at the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City. Studied arts criticism issues and writing.
Pulliam Journalism Fellow
— The Arizona Republic, 1993
Studied newsroom organization and worked as a features writer at the newspaper for three months.
See my teaching statement, courses taught, guest lectures, and syllabi links here.
Holograms, augmented reality, and presence
My dissertation is a media-archaeological inquiry into emergences of holograms, broadly defined, in order to demonstrate how human interactions with this kind of spectral imagery both concretize essentially spiritualist aspects of technical media and facilitate negotiations of inherent contradictions that haunt ideologies of modernity — tensions between presence and absence, body and spirit, life and death.
I organize my analysis around the historical figure of the hologram, a now-contested term that allows me to unite several seemingly incommensurate visual technologies, such as my primary four cases: the Pepper’s Ghost stage illusion as developed by the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London in the mid-19th century, optical holograms displayed at the Museum of Holography in New York City during the 1970s, the imaginary of science-fiction “holograms” as depicted mainly in Star Wars and Star Trek, and a posthumous performance by the rapper Tupac Shakur as a digital “hologram” at a live music festival in 2012. Following the work of communication philosopher Vilém Flusser, I classify these 3D image-bodies as technical imagery, arguing that holograms (more than other technical imagery such as photos, film, and video) more fully embody his category of an emerging postmodern communication code.
Learning to look at holograms — how to see them (moving our bodies) as well as how to see through them (literally and figuratively) — creates a decentered, mobile, media-savvy viewing subject that not only views a spectral image but participates in a more direct experience of spectrality — an experience I call holopresence. In the company of holograms, this subject marvels not only at the haunting nature of the mediated manifestation but at the uncanny surfacing of their own immaterial everyday experience.
keywords: augmented reality, cyberspace eversion, death studies (thanatology), embodiment, hauntology, HCI, holography, media studies, performance, phenomenology, presence, screenology, space, spiritualism, tele/presence, transhumanism, ubiquitous computing, VR, virtuality
& the social protest song
Based on extensive research at the Woody Guthrie Archives and elsewhere, I have chronicled the life and legacy of the American folksinger — including a study of Woody's performing persona as developed within a parasocial relationship with his first radio audience — as well as the evolution of the protest song within decentralized 21st-century demonstrations. (Believe it or not, this does somehow jibe with my hologram studies above.)
keywords: folk music, identity, labor, Occupy Wall Street, parasocial interactions, performance studies, protest music, Woody Guthrie
& media studies
A former full-time pop music critic, I also study the history and evolving functions of pop music criticism, including content analyses of rock journalism as well as examinations of everyday music-listening practice within cog-sci and uses-and-grats theories, especially music as a background activity in transmedia contexts.
keywords: attention, background music, cognitive science, criticism, journalism, Muzak, Pandora, pop music, Spotify, streaming, uses and gratifications