February 25, 2004
Dina Mehta on Sense of Presence
Posted by Stuart, February 25, 2004 2:41 PM
Another brilliant piece in my aggregator today - a long and fascinating paper by Douglas Galbi on Sense in Communications. I went throught the entire pdf file - 190 pages long with text and large picture file, quite rivetted by the concept. Lost my way a little in between, still was fascinated by his study of artifacts and historical periods of communication that he's used to bring alive the mechanisms of sense of presence. From Akbar's Humzanama in south asia to the Morgan Bible of Louis IX, and sixteenth and seventeenth century England.
Definitely worth a good and full read for the tremendous implications and learnings on how important sense of presence is in communication of any form. Useful for anyone dealing with communications and flows - gaming developers, social networking sites like Orkut, Ryze and Flickr, social software developers, knowledge or "information flow" workers come to mind immediately.
For me it is particularly relevant as we go about creating better information flows in organisations.
Thanks Stuart for pointing out this article, for taking it forward into implications for telephony, and for carefully sifting out the gems. Given below is an excerpt from his blog post - read the full for more insight.
"Douglas Galbi in his comment links to his fascinating paper Sense in Communications: Note Douglas is an economist with the FCC and his paper an in-depth study 190 pages on "Presence". He states that: "To avoid disaster, the telecommunications industry needs to shift from providing telephony to providing means for making sense of presence." I wholeheartedly agree!
Summarizing elements from his paper is both quite a challenge and really doesn't do justice to the depth of thinking, historical perspective and gorgeous photos provided. So this blogspeed entry tries to make some small sense of presence. My favorite pages 6, 7, 126, 127, 128, 130, 133, 136, 137, 141, 142. Direct quotes are in italics.
"Presence" is fundamental to creating future communications value. We are a a critical point where the interaction of photography (pictures) and telephony (calls) will radically reduce the cost of making sense of presence and create new opportunities for value creation
What makes a letter a joy, or a voice from an object (a telephone headset) a comfort, rather than a horror, depends on the sense of another's presence, despite that person's physical absence. The way this sense is activated, and at what cost, directly relates to sensuous choices in communication.
Three models of communications illustrate why: 1)information transfer (under different sensory circumstances eg face to face to new forms of social software), 2)storytelling (shared interpretation and different sensory economics), and 3)sense of presence (an element of real-time presence detection and participation). Of these only "Presence" provides the sensory opportunity to radically redirect strategies for mobility and social networking. "[dina mehta]