Wednesday 13 March 2019 – Lunchtime Seminar with Dr Stuart Reeves (Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham)

Image provided by Dr Stuart Reeves

Title: Co-producing Action: ‘Device talk’ and voice agents
Speaker: Dr Stuart Reeves (Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham)
Date and time: Wednesday 13 March 2019, 1pm-2pm
Hosted by: Professor Luigina Ciolfi

The collaborative production of sentences in progress is a pervasive feature of everyday talk. For instance, phenomena such as choral co-production and other-completion of utterances have received substantive attention (see Lerner 2002, 1991, 2004).

Using a corpus of recordings of in-home interactions with Amazon Echo, we focus on the ways in which the use of voice-driven computer interfaces creates new methodological challenges for conversationalists’ co-production practices. In particular, we focus on co-production in the course of performing tasks with the Echo such as requesting information, playing music, or setting an alarm, which are largely initiated as a compound ‘wake word’ + directive/question format. Use of the wake word as initiator projects the compound action, and makes it available to others to also complete (Lerner 1991).

However unlike conversation, utterances directed towards the device are subject to a range of technological hurdles (speech-to-text transcription, lexical parsing, dialogue management, text-to-speech generation) that constrain voice input in various ways (and are largely unavailable from a users’ point of view).

Thus, co-production practices must be adapted to fit in appropriate ways to the rigidities of these ‘conversational’ interfaces in order to support initiation and turn-by-turn interactional progressivity of the talk environment with / around the device.

Conversationalists must learn, in short, how to do ‘device talk’ and integrate it into the organisation of everyday conversation.

Dr Stuart Reeves is Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, and is a member of the Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon. He recently held an EPSRC Fellowship investigating the connections between academic HCI research communities and the work of practitioners in UX/IxD/IA and other design professions. He is also Co-I on EPSRC grant “From Human Data to Personal Experience”.


See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email the C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.