Faculty Spotlight: Jordan Frith, New Pearce Center Endowed Chair
We sat down with the new endowed Pearce Professor of Professional Communication, Dr. Jordan Frith, to discuss his background in technical communication, current position and long term goals.
Can you share some insight into your professional background? What had you been working on leading up to your position at Clemson?
I finished my PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media in 2012 and took a job at the University of North Texas in their technical communication department. I’ve also done consulting work for environmental nonprofits that especially focuses on social media.
As the Pearce endowed professor, your research extends to the social impact of smartphones and mobile infrastructure. Can you explain what sort of findings you’ve uncovered so far?
My earlier research focused on how smartphones enable people to learn more about their physical surroundings. In other words, they become a sort of screen through which people are able to engage with their physical space differently. Much of my work looked at how people used physical location merged with digital information to reconfigure how they engage with other people and with their physical spaces.
Going off of that, can you tell me about your most recent book, A Billion Little pieces: RFID and Infrastructures of Identification and how it has furthered your research?
As I mentioned above, much of my earlier research (including my dissertation back in 2012) focused on how people used smartphones. For my most recent book, I got interested in what was happening below the surface of how people engage with the media. In other words, I started researching infrastructures, which are an often-ignored force that shapes our world in important ways. In particular, I examined RFID infrastructures, which are the tags found in everything from subway cards to toll tags to the bodies of microchipped pets. I specifically looked at how infrastructures of RFID fed into larger Internet of Things and Big Data projects.
Within your position at the Pearce Center, you primarily conduct research but you do teach some courses — what are they?
In the fall I taught a graduate seminar on mobile/locative media. Right now I’m teaching an undergraduate visual communication course where we’re doing a lot of cool stuff with the Adobe Creative Suite. Next fall I’ll be teaching freshman composition.
What are your long term goals as a tenured professor at Clemson and researcher in the communication field?
I want to be one of the very top mobile media and tech comm researchers in the world. I want to continue to publish a bunch of peer reviewed articles and maybe write another book or two. I’m confident Clemson will provide the professional support I need.
Written By: Carter Smith