Physically sharing mediated presence
While the network was down, Lee Felsenstein gave his keynote speech about the computer as a tool for democracy, emphasizing the quality networks can provide for local communities. In the early afternoon Captain Crunch opened a videophone link with the USSR, which will be discussed in one of the reflections later. We saw Russians on the screen waving at us. In the afternoon several alternative networks were demonstrated. Michael Polman from Antenna demonstrated and spoke about the fact that networks ultimately remain people-to-people networks which have to be orchestrated as well. Jeremy Mortimer of Greennet demonstrated Greennet, Peacenet and Econet and emphasized that computers are sometimes the only way to export reliable information from certain countries that are in trouble like South Africa, Nicaragua and China. Tjebbe van Tijen showed the university network and the sysop from the radical political BBS de Zwarte Ster from Rotterdam, Xythar showed the way politically sensitive information and political discussions take place on their system run completely by volunteers. Lee Felsenstein demonstrated the 'community memory' project in which people can leave messages for other people in their own neighbourhood. This was the first time I realised that mediated presence could be appreciated when people are actually sharing their natural presence by also being in the same place at the same time.