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Dogs and technology: Our most beloved companions in twentieth and twenty-first century America

By Claire V. Bow

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Since the suburban rush and steep rise in household technological devices in the mid-twentieth century, Americans have drawn apart from each other, a shift that has coincided with a rise in both dog ownership and the adoption of handheld mobile devices. This paper argues that these phenomena, which are both ubiquitous and intimate in many American households, reflect one of the most basic and static human needs: the need for emotional connection. Furthermore, it is the unique combination of canine and digital elements that replace human-to-human social networks; networks that were once both literally and figuratively tightly drawn. In the plainest terms, handheld devices endow people with powers of digital communication, thereby infolding them into a cybernetic social network. Meanwhile, it falls to dogs to provide a physical embodiment of a more immediate and tactile connection. In the most complicated terms, the human/digital/canine relationship in its many iterations is fraught with seemingly contradictory nuances, surprising connections, and theoretically diverse approaches. Drawing from a wide base of existing research and literature, both in the realm of human/technological and human/canine relationships, this paper seeks to draw new conclusions about how we interact with our devices and our dogs and what this might say about who we are.

Date 2010
Pages 99
Publisher University of Denver
Department Digital Media Studies
Degree M.A.
University University of Denver
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Communication
  3. Dogs
  4. Humans
  5. Hybrids
  6. Pet ownership
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. Posthumanism
  9. technology