Soon, the idea of presence will become a major part of how we view communication. How do I know? Because it’s everywhere – and that’s part of the point, a big part of the mystique.
How do I know this? Because humans always outpace. We’re wired for it. No matter what’s going on, we sprint ahead, finding ways not just to cut corners and shorten process, but to make things efficient, usable, simple to communicate. As much as complexity is a necessary part of societal growth, to a point, so is precision of communication. And because precision and presence playu so nicely together, we have a natural tendancy to want face-to-face contact with our information.
The Real-Time Web is here. Like it or not, someone well enough equipped can find out just about anything with not a lot of lag time. We search, we aggregate, we syndicate and broadcast. Some of us even publish from our keyboards directly. Why? We want to connect. We’ve talked about connection, right? It’s fairly important.
One of the biggest components of connection is presence.
Amber Naslund sparked this with a post about presence journalism and immediacy that made a lot of sense – and as I responded, younger generations (younger then me anyway, being late Gen X, early Gen Y) believe rightly that without immediacy, media is uninspiring. Their worlds have never lacked the communication capacilities we now begin to take for granted.
Amber’s not alone – Jay Rosen made a comment about CNN preserving the View From Nowhere, and how that’s becoming a failing part of their business by limiting their journalistic capabilities. I agree wholeheartedly. Think back to the first time you saw a local reporter “On location” for a national news team. Did the story hit home a little more? Did it make more sense, even if it wasn’t in your back yard, to have someone intimately involved in the details reporting them?
You bet your sweet Tweets it does.
Jay and Amber were talking about reporting, but I think this argument has to extend to all manner of human communication on the web. Julien Smith just dropped a post entitled “The End of Bookstores” which talks about the immediacy of technology adoption, specifically comparing how long it takes to get a book on your Kindle or iPad, compared to the time it takes out of your day to hit the local Chapters or Borders for the same piece of text. The costs differ, not just in dollars, but in time. Yes, local bookstores have people, and a sense of community, but that’s a poor tradeoff for some people.
Presence nullifies a lot of arguments.
Did Tiamamen Square happened? If they’d had Foursquare, there would be proof beyond cover-up. Was there a second shooter on the grassy knoll? Geolocation and Twitter could have solved that one easily. In a lot of cases where details are the difference between a headline and a news phenomenon, current and emerging technologies change not only the information that’s reported, but the way it’s reported.
Look at the Iran elections where Twitter broke before CNN did. Trouble in India. The last three earthquakes. Do you remember the headlines? Probably not, as catchy as they certainly would have been. But I bet if you think you’d be able to remember what the first tweet was, or who it came from.
Presence media goes beyond making yourself available to others; it makes others available to you. Are you going to wait for a life-and-death situation before you make yourself aware and involved?
Photo by alicepopkorn