A lot of interesting thinking and experiments are now going on concerning presence in communication. Mike Gotta’s post entitled “Presence: Complex, Pervasive And Evasive” highlights the business case for presence. Which industry structure do you think is better for private investment, competition among many firms, and innovation: an industry in which firms compete to supply a commodity service like per-minute voice communication, or an industry in which firms compete to provide a “complex, pervasive, and evasive” good? My economics training suggests the latter!
Person-state definitions, attention management, and impression management are aspects of presence that shouldn’t be over-emphasized and that are probably better hidden in the design of services than presented as tasks that users must manage. In person, too active impression management goes by the name of being a phony. That would be a horrible insult to be associated with a Telco 2.0 service.
Moreover, as Craig Roth insightfully notes, if Captain Picard doesn’t have effective interruption management technology, businesses today probably should be cautious about the prospects for developing it.
A service designed for persons to use to broadcast a text message answering one simple question, “What are you doing?” produced this message:
oooooh la la! Biz is looking like a well-dressed handsome man! ^_^ Ready sweep Livvy off of her feet…again! [Twitter]
That’s not literally state information, but it does make for a strong sense of presence.
A more propitious direction for presence is better communicating persons acting in the world, expressing themselves where they are. Georgia O’Keeffe beautifully conveys this idea:
I have picked flowers where I found them.
Have picked up sea shells and rocks and pieces of
wood where there were seashells and rocks and pieces of
wood that I liked.
When I found the beautiful white bones
on the desert I picked them up and took them home too.
I have used these things to say what is to me the
wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.
[from exhibition catalogue, 1944]