Presence and availability information has been one of the key enabling technologies for web workers, providing signaling mechanisms for indicating the ability and willingness of users to communicate, whether by instant message, VoIP call, caller ID or even an email auto-responder.
Together presence and status indicators weaved through our various communication channels make teleworking and telecommuting less painless and provide useful ‘social signaling’ that would ordinarily take place in office environments. It’s arguable that time & distance are no longer useful measures of the value or cost of communication, but the richness of contextual signaling available in any one medium.
Personally, I’ve found the most profound innovations in presence, latterly, to be Twitter and to a lesser extent Jaiku. Both provide important mechanisms for richly describing presence location – whether it’s location, activity or even mood…the latter perhaps signaling the solicitation of communication. In Jaiku’s case, it’s not difficult to imagine the universe of Google applications setting and utilizing presence through Jaiku.
Recently, Anthony Townsend of Palo Alto’s Institute for the Future speculated on Telepresence as a Driver for Presence. Townsend writes about the correlation between new communication technologies and long-haul travel, speculating that the arrival of HD videoconferencing and the uptick in fuel prices should be a perfect storm, but improved fidelity is often applied to mundane communication with a premium still attached to in-person meetings when closing down important decisions.
Certainly, HD sports channels are no substitute for watching your favourite team live at a stadium, though such media broadens the appeal and access to physically exclusive events. So despite living at the bleeding edges of human communication, we web workers do place a premium on ‘live’…