Sunday 14 October 2007

Mechanical + Social = Rich Presence

I recently posted about the role and value of microblogging, including some thoughts about its longer term direction. Mike Gotta adds fuel to those ideas with a couple of posts, with the most important talking about presence:

"Presence right now is horribly deficit and simplistic. I believe presence should not be defacto tied solely around a unified communication system - we need to step back and think of presence in a broader sense (including the social aspects) than what we have today in terms of being on-hook/off-hook with a phone or whether I am sitting at a PC (or Mac) and available (or not because I am busy with something)."

Gotta also points to this post by Alec Saunders from late last year describing the next iteration of presence:

"Life isn’t black and white.  It’s shades of grey.  We need solutions for managing those shades, rather than the black and white solutions we have in today’s first generation presence systems.  The solution is an evolution of today’s crude presence technologies into an architecture which I’ve described as New Presence."

I think this is the right conversation to have, and Gotta is right about the need to move from theory to actual implementing standards that allow rich presence to be implemented in practice across multiple platforms and channels. However, I can also see there are two dimensions to rich presence:

  1. The "mechanical" presence data that these standards will allow us to combine - this presence data will come from different systems and might include information about our location, events and our social network; and
  2. Our social presence - what we've done, what we are thinking and what we are planning.

In a way this is a bit like the tacit versus explicit concept in knowledge management and for this reason while this mechanical richness will make presence better and allow more people to participate, we shouldn't mistake or ignore the importance of social presence either in the equation.

The other post points to this early review of a Seesmic, which offers potential as a micro-vlogging platform.

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