Sean Riley


Communication Research Tool, Re-tooled. (October 7, 2019)

The IMPACCT© (Interactive Media Package for the Assessment of Communication and Critical Thinking) is an online exam that measures the communication and critical thinking skills of communication students. Results of this application are used to assist the School of Communication at SDSU (and other universities) to better design curriculum to meet the needs of its students. Working with the researcher and Scholar Dr. Brian Spitzberg, Sean Riley recently released a complete rebuild of his original application. The program, over the last decade, has helped 10s of thousands of students understand the quality and effectiveness of their communication skills.



While anticipating our trip to Paris: I cannot wait for my first Parisian meal. The French have a word: terroir which roughly translates into territory when the discussion flows to wine and food. It is this ultimate provenance that "informs the bouquet flavor notes of wine . . . indicates that mixture of soil climate temperature geographical location," (Christina, Waters) that all combine to express themselves into a single glass of wine. I am coming to understand that in Paris the terroir applies not only to wine but extends to capture a restaurant's essence based on that establishment's sources of food, culinary touch, and even (possibly) down to the music preference of the chef. When discussing food, there is no American equivalent to the French term terroir with the possible blunt label of organic. As an American, food is understood as chemistry and economy, programed for mouth feel and flavor bliss. It's relationship is limited to the body of the eater and various metabolic signaling pathways it's ingestion produces. Every bite an equation solving between calories, carbohydrates, satisfaction and guilt. Whereas, to the French (at least in my idealized mental image of them), the meal is a sacrament to taste and discovery, it contributes and supports the conversation and overall relationship of those sharing it. I cannot wait for my first Parisian meal.

An Amish Approach

In an interview with Keven Kelly, he described the Amish's relationship with technology. Rather than being just techno-phobic luddites, The Amish collectively decide which technology enhances what they most value in their chosen way of life. Family and community are essential values to these folks. Having three meals a day with their children until they grow up is a priority. So limiting transportation to horses keeps people within a limited radius . . . so their communities must be locally self sufficient. This ensures that family is seldom far enough to miss a meal together.

I am intrigued by the idea that a community collectively choose which technology to incorporate into their lives. Maybe it is not such a bad idea. While I don’t see myself sporting a neck beard driving a horse drawn buggy anytime soon, I do see engaging in a real thoughtful consideration of both media and technologies influence on my consciousness experience and relationships in life.

Marshall McLuhan phrase: “The Medium is the Message” has been repeated so often it’s nearly lost its punch, but today especially, I find it particularly applicable. So, McLuhan, sees the medium used to transfer a message as changing the experience one has with that message and ultimately the meaning of that message. Reading the story “feels” different than seeing the movie. So it is not such a stretch to see that the technology we use to interact with information and each other can change who we are.

We’ve all heard cautionary tails about the shallowing effect interaction with communicative technologies such as social media has on attention and thinking; which sound increasing like an old man yelling “you with your smartphone, get off my lawn!” But I believe that there is some truth here. I will just touch on one: Boredom. having instant access means that one never has to be bored. Yet boredom is the beginning of deep thought, solemnity, patience, wisdom and so many of the richer human experiences.

I’ve seen my tolerance of boredom reduced and my ability to access the slower deeper thought space of Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow” so necessary in my work, harder to obtain. I’m wading in the warm comfortable shallows. It’s simple to point the finger at FaceBook as complicit in my increase hunger for interruption, but I think the real culprit may be more holistic.

The Fast

Fasting Day One:
Me: I’m so hungry.
Allison: You’ve only been fasting for 10 minutes.

Fasting Day Two:
Me: Now I know what McCain must have endured in war prison
Allison: I am so going to slap you

Fasting Day Three:
Me: last night I dreamt I was lying on a giant tatter-tot floating on a sea of melted cheese towards an island of cake.
Allison: Shhhhh. Sip your cold mushroom broth.

Fasting Day Four:
Me: What’s in that bowl? It smells absolutely delicious!
Allison: Purina dog food for the dog.

Fasting Day Five (last day):

Me: Why! Why am I doing this?

Allison: Don’t you remember? You are fasting to transition your body into a ketonic metabolic state to loose abdominal fat and also to generate signaling pathways that evoke autophagy, a maintenance mode for your cells, that some research suggest will help you live a healthier longer life. AND, you are also fasting to enlarge your soul through hunger.

Me: Am I more spiritual now that I’ve fasted for 5 days?

Allison: Yes. If spiritual means being a whiny bitch.