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CN: So today is the second of December two thousand nine we are with Satinder Gill from Cambridge Center of Music and Science. I have known you for a while. I love your work. And, as you know, I have been focusing on presence and trust and currently on witnessed presence. To start with the conversation, because you are also familiar with my work, can you elaborate on why you think witnessed presence is a notion of significance?

SG: I think that often the notion of presence is considered in terms of one person being in the presence of another. So yeah, you're aware of the other. But witnessed presence adds a dimension of how it is that you are present with another. And.... It's an interesting question actually. It's both being perceived while the other is perceiving, but there's also an element where another might also judge in that perceiving. So you've got an awareness of another's possible intentions in the way in which they are present. And in the act of witnessing and being witnessed, there is most likely to be... I think what I want to say is that there's necessarily a connection of awareness that involves the potential and possibility of some kind of.... It's hard to say... I'm not sure whether in the act of witnessing you could say that there is any kind of synchrony or rhythm, but I think in order to witness you have a connection.

This interesting, I hadn't really thought it through. You're asking this really hard question, right at the very beginning! But it's interesting. I was just thinking that if I'd actually notice another person, I'm not just in the same space as them. It's not as if were all in a crowded room or we're in the street. No, I am actually aware of something that someone else is doing. This means-- This is really interesting because this means that in the act of witnessing I am somehow connected, in my body and the way I might be moving, breathing etcetera, with another. And that's quite an interesting potential. Because you could have a whole room of people, but one person might witness what another is doing. And the interesting thing is that reciprocated. If it is reciprocative, so not only am I witnessing but another is aware that they are being witnessed, then there is intrinsically an interesting connection there. That will involve, to some degree of-- if there isn't already there, I think it will be achieved-- pulse, some kind of connection. Which has the potential for the rhythmic coordination.

I'm interested in rhythm. So for me the idea of witnessed presence suggests that... I think it suggests another way of thinking about how it is that we are connected. Because witness doesn't have to... I don't think you have the legal connotation of witness. But this doesn't have to go into any of that. This is simply one person being aware of another.

CN: But maybe before we go into the rhythm, can we first go back to that moment where it starts, where the witnessing starts? Thomas Kuhn said that we can only be aware or even perceive other beings, unless we recognize their spatial temporary trajectory.

SG: Ah, ok. Yes, yes.

CN: See it is a beautiful word.

SG: It is a beautiful word that covers everything.

CN: Well, you bring in the notion of awareness. So there is something. There is this general space, with many things in it, and there is the moment when witnessing starts or where some pulse evolves; rhythm has it's first beat.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: What happens just before?

SG: That's a very interesting question. So it is curious as to why it is that you would suddenly notice.

CN: Yes.

SG: And it would be something to do with what Thomas Kuhn was saying. In order for somebody to... In order to notice, something would have to have occurred that is out of the time. That's not quite in sync with everything else. So there's a... For example in studies when looking at groups; it's very interesting that the moment one person's body goes still for longer than it's supposed to go in flow with the rest, it becomes noticed. That person becomes noticed. By someone, don't know who, but someone. Only one person needs to notice in order for the rest of the group to suddenly become aware. Because the moment one person notices, their body changes. Because their body then becomes still, to look what's going on. As that body becomes still, the person next to them becomes aware that there's this stillness, they then look. And it creates an entire group awareness of this one moment that triggers this noticing. So it may very well be, that to witness, the person that is being witnessed has altered something in the dynamics of the spacial temporal coordination of the group, of the environment. So it's not working in the flow, it becomes noticed. That's what I've noticed in the group dynamics and that may be a starting point.

CN: And the word 'awareness' that you use, that's something that will manifest in spatial temporal trajectories?

SG: Yes. So for example if one person is... it's not... Well, I'm just wondering. That's one example of where one person suddenly becomes noticed. Because the word awareness, is only the peripheral awareness. It's just that suddenly your body-- it's that something's not happening as it would normally, as it would be. The flow has been altered, so then you notice. So there's a change in spatial temporal trajectory.

CN: So what's the driver of flow?

SG: Well, that's another very interesting question. Let's explore it. So if we take, I think... Gosh. I have many thoughts in my head. I need to figure out where to start. So one position is that... We know that as human beings we have developed the skills to move together. And some people argue that these skills, irrespective of cultures are learned from the moment you're born, with the mother-baby coordination. Somebody put it mother lease. So it's the way the movement of the voice or the body of caretaker and child move together. So the child begins to learn to coordinate sound and when there eyes become clearer after a few days or weeks, she'll also be able to coordinate gesture and then coordinate gesture and sound. So they learn the skills of moving with others.

And I think the flow, what makes for flow, lies in this capacity that we have as human beings, that we learn from the moment we're born. And we develop the skills from that very, very early age, performed very early on. And they're survival skills to be able to move with others. If we don't have those survival skills-- so for example, people who are autistic, they don't have that flow and they suffer, they become isolated. They have difficulties communicating, others don't understand them. And some people, like Conden, would argue that it's simply because of this difference in timing. If that could be overcome, there wouldn't be a problem.

So there is something interesting there about the way in which we are made up, that maybe it's almost like it's a genetic thing. That we have the inbuilt tools, which need to be nurtured and trained, in order to be able to move with the flow. Then we can learn the survival skills of the culture in which we grow. And there may be something interesting universal about those skills, which enable us to go to other cultures and communicate across cultures. And it's interesting that a deaf friend of mine was saying that she used to go France with her husband who speaks and who is not deaf. And sometimes, he's not very good at communicating what he wants to eat, his french isn't great. She uses her gestures, she's deaf. She gets everything sorted. Because there's something about the fluidity of the possibility to understand with body and sound systems, which is much more... moves across boundaries and borders much more easily, than the content of a speech utterance. So I think, where does the flow come from, is probably from those very early days of birth.

And as human beings we are learned and trained and cultured to understand that flow. I don't think it's something that we're conscious of. I don't think parents are conscious of the flow. They just do it, as their parents did it with them when they were born. And so it continues and it evolves and it changes, because culture changes and evolves, so the flow changes and evolves. I think that's where the flow is. The flow is all these sort of nuances of vocal sound and gestural coordinations. All these sort of nuances that we're not conscious of. We don't think 'how does my voice move?'. Maybe sometimes, if we suddenly feel a sudden awareness if the voice is low or we're tired and, you know, we lift our voices. Those are the times that we are conscious, maybe, that we're not in the flow. And that we're only conscious of those things when we're aware that they're not helping us to be in the flow. So I think the flow lies in this kind of pulsation, movement, voices and bodies. And I think that's where flow is. So when one person suddenly shifts the flow, that person will be noticed. Something in the environment, someone, is not moving in the flow, is not in the flow.

CN: So now you sort of describe the flow of the personal lives, of the homes, of the street. What happens when you go to a professional environment?

SG: That's interesting, 'cause flow's are highly contextualized in different environments. That's an interesting question, 'cause there we have then conventions of behavior. And other factors, dealing with power. More explicit forms of cooperation. This is an interesting one and it's one that I sometimes think of, 'cause it just raises other challenges.

CN: The thing is, that the way you described it before, flow evolves form survival, from being in the flow in your culture without hardly even noticing it. And everything you get aware of is changes in the flow, or significance in the flow.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: But intentionality comes from within the flow.

SG: Yes.

CN: Like survival, where in a collaborative, professional environment there are formulated intentions of production producing deliverables. So the driver comes from outside.

SG: Yes.

CN: So I was wondering how that affects us.

SG: Umm.. That's a very hard one. I think that again, maybe the apprenticeship model helps a lot with people being able to manage that. With lack of apprenticeship model it gets harder, I see. I think that was the traditional way. Somebody would come in, they would learn, just in practice, how to be in that environment. And one of the best explicit examples for that is when I was in Japan, when there was a young Ph.D. Student who came in as a post doc. The environment of the corporation was very specific. And if you don't fit in that environment, fit with the way they work, you won't be able to survive. So each new person that comes in, needs to be trained to be able to perform and function in that environment. And I was curious to watch how this would happen. So this young chap comes in. He's rebellious, questioning everything, disagreeing with everything. And they decide to allow him to disagree because he is young, but then work on him. Step by step give him some freedom, let him express all his angst, let him ridicule, let him tease. And then slowly, slowly work at it. By the end of one year, for me, he was unrecognizable in his behavior and his way of thinking from his colleagues.

CN: How do you mean unrecognizable?

SG: He was like he was the corporation.

CN: Oh, he was like them?

SG: Yes. He was no longer the person that questioned, who ridiculed, who teased, who joked. His manner had changed, his behavior had changed, his demeanor had changed, his outlook had changed, his way of thinking had changed, his way of talking had changed. So he would now... He now was a perfect fit for the organization and he would now be fine.

CN: So what happened in that process?

SG: The amazing thing is that I didn't... I wasn't intentionally setting out to analyze this. I was just curious as to the transformation. When it happened it was a shock to me because I suddenly realized he had changed completely. And I wish I had tracked the entire process, because I think that would be the most wonderful study to do. Sometimes it's easier to see things from outside when you're in a different culture. But I think this happens to everyone when they enter an environment, which is different from what they're used to. Otherwise we don't fit.

CN: So you're actually saying that any work environment offers its specific flow. And as long as you provide for some adaptation time, it will be fine.

SG: Yes, yes. It will be fine. And if you cannot or if you find it hard to adapt to that environment, then you won't succeed in that environment.

CN: It's very interesting you're mentioning this example. Because I also did interviews in the outsourcing industry, people who studied there. So I interviewed social scientists who worked there and trainers who trained cross communication skills. The experience, to make a very long story short, was I assumed that there was a new sort of witnessing evolving in that professional environment, because people are responsible for far away places and they have vital functions for those very far away place. It turns out to be not at all so. It turns out that it's a very, very specific working environment. Which requires very strong adaptation, like your story of your friend, people change within a year; how they look, how they talk, how they eat, what their manners are. But also the conclusion of these studies there is that people make a very strong distinction between their professional life and their personal life. This distinction becomes only harder, up to the point to where it becomes like a psychological problem, for many people involved.

SG: Yes.

CN: So this is where your synchronization and your adaptation to rhythms that are not yours becomes very interesting. So maybe we can go to the nature of rhythm. So apparently there is true rhythm and false rhythm, like there is true witnessing and false witnessing. So is there a notion like false rhythm?

SG: I don't think so. I don't rhythm is false. I think in order to be successfully en-cultured into a unique environment the rhythm is spontaneous. I don't think it's something you have very much control over.

CN: But in music people can be offbeat or can have no sense of rhythm, missing the beat.

SG: I think... OK, there's two... Let's break this down a step. Maybe there's levels. There are levels here. Let's look at the notion of false and rhythm. Take the work environments example. In order for your behaviors to become synchronized with the rest, there has to be some mechanisms in place to pull you into that kind of patterned behavior. There may be conditions in place in entailment of certain kinds of ways of thinking and doing. There could be incentives given. A whole range of things. But the rhythms are not... Rhythm is not something that is operating at conscious level. I think that's what I'm telling you, that's what I'm trying to say. It's not something that we are consciously in control of. So for example if one, if you, if you're a person in an environment who wants to try and adapt, but you find it very difficult to. It's because whatever it is that's being offered to you in order to be part of that environment, isn't persuasive enough or isn't convincing enough or you are too consciously aware of it. But at the level of one person with another, rhythm is not something that's controlled. You automatically will move with another, or you won't.

CN: But can you elaborate on this? Because you have very nice stories on this.

SG: Well some people say it's a bit like... Some people use the word entrainment, which comes from... It actually comes from a sign from physics etc. The notion of, if you have two clocks and their pendulums swing, if their swings are different eventually they will just interlock and move at exactly the same timing. That's Nature. So there's something in the forces that actually end up just synchronizing. Objects just synchronize when they move. And musicians drew upon the idea of entrainment in order to think about...

CN: Entrainment is a word for synchronization?

SG: Yes, so syncopating, so being in time with another. Now for human behavior you have to move beyond the simple concept of moving exactly in time. And it's interesting that in studies of music, if you get two people being asked to tap to a metronome - this has been done by a brilliant Ph.D. student actually at the Center for Music and Science. He noticed that people think that they're tapping to the metronome, but in fact what they're doing is: you got two people, they're tapping. They think they're tapping to the metronome and then they're like this [SG shows with her hands what she means], then they come back to the metronome, then they go like this. So what is happening is that they are pulled to each others beat. And afterwards if you ask them 'how did the tapping go?', it's 'Oh it was easy, no problem!'. You sit there and you think, they have no awareness that they moved right away from the metronome. So the pull of the pulse of another's body is something about... Something that human rhythm pulls us to each other. And it's not operating at a conscious level. We have no idea that we're actually doing this sometimes. It's really quite amazing.

The time we are aware is when it's uncomfortable, when it's unexpected, and it comes to consciousness. For example if you're sitting in a train, there's a total stranger next to you. Suddenly you find you're breathing at exactly the same time as them, it is scary. You don't want to be breathing with this person! You don't know this person, it's a total stranger! And you just keep trying not to breathe with them. And what I... This has happened to me a few times. And I find it very uncomfortable. So what I try to do, is hold my breath, wait for them to breath and then I breath. And I... It's very hard, because they keep pulling me, you know. So I think there, at that level, rhythm is operating at an unconscious level. And it's something that is very hard to resist. And sometimes in the music research we talk about resistance to entrainment. And it's hard to resist it, it's like pulling away from the flow of a river. You're pulled by it and you're trying 'No, no, no, no, no...!'. It's very difficult Then there are... Then I think you have layers and layers of action and intention that are...go off this, which is interesting, which is where maybe in an organization you have a lot of other factors which are making play for this kind of...

CN: Can I just ask you, you just made the connection that rhythm is sort of the flow interaction?

SG: Yes.

CN: Can you explain?

SG: So it's like a very basic coordination that is taking place, at a totally unconscious level. When it... If you want it to work... If you're comfortable with that, not for example having the strange breathing next to you. But if you're comfortable with, say, the way you're walking with someone, the way you're talking with someone, the chances are that you will be able to work well with that person. This means that whatever other actions you do take with this other person, or with the others, will be sustainable. They will be something that's workable. It's set on good foundations because there is a good feeling. So feeling good with others, I think, is also rooted in this notion of how that flow is working.

When it's not quite working... I have, people tell me examples of when they want to communicate with someone who they are sure is a wonderful person to know, must be a wonderful person to work with - you may love their writing. But you can't talk to them because their talking, their timing isn't quite right. You know, they either talk over you all the time or the gaps are too long. It's awkward and, you know, you can't quite cement to achieve that flow. Which means you are not likely to sustain that connection or that relationship. It may have a certain form or function, but it won't be fruitful in doing something with that person. Because you can't, you find it really difficult.

CN: So now I have two questions at the same time, maybe you can make it one answer. I understood before from you that rhythm also makes it possible for me to act.

SG: Yes.

CN: And I always have this image when you stand on the high diving thing in the swimming pool. I'm gonna jump now, but you don't jump. You know that feeling? You say 'I'm now gonna jump', but it's scary so you're just standing. And you go '1, 2, 3..' and you don't go. Again you say '1, 2, 3..' and don't move. And then '1, 2, 3..' and then you jump. So this moment when you decide to do the step or when you have been sitting and you make your first step. Or when you enter into a practice - That's one question. The second one is; do I understand you correctly if I... if you say that actually being able to make that first step is because you are in flow with others in this rhythm and then that makes you... that gives you the possibility to act. When you're out of flow you do not have this possibility to act.

SG: I think it's always easier if someone else is there doing it as well. Often... It is interesting that you can sometimes feel immobile to do something, but you just need one other person to say 'Hey..' and you immediately say 'Hey...' and you move. And you can suddenly do the things you didn't think you could do. Definitely being in flow with others helps you to achieve things that... Not having any flow makes it hard.

CN: OK, let's move into the technology realm now. Because if we, sort of... We have made clear, you know, you need this spatial temporal awareness to be in flow, yet we now work and live online with many people lots of the time. Your research also focused on distributive collaborative work. So how do we recognize people in online environments? How can we... Can we witness them?

SG: I think if they are online environments where they have developed to community of practice, then it's possible. At some level.

CN: What is a community of practice for you?

SG: I'm thinking of only one example that I really know of. It's... I would have originally said no, but I watched this one group. There's a colleague from the time that I was at Stanford. He set up a company and they designed this online environment and then invited people to sort of join in. And then the company went bust and they moved on. My colleague did and his colleagues did, who set this up. And they moved into other things. So then a couple of years later they thought they'd revisit, because they heard that people were still using this environment even though they had forgotten about it. So they went to meet these people online. And they were quite stunned. What they found was that people had created their own codes of practice about how they would communicate within this space. They had developed practice of behavior. So for example, if you're communicating then you should have this kind of like a flow, a turn ticking. If you're silent for too long then 'Wait, hey, what are you doing? Are you still there? Are you actually paying attention? Or you're being rude?'. You know, there are all kinds of ways they can take this interruption in what they have developed as being a kind of flow. So they will move inside this space, they move close to each other, far away from each other, or up/down. Basically they're just disembodied heads.

CN: It's something like an Alpha-world environment? Or Second Life?

SG: Yes, it's a Second Life kind of thing. So they just... They're all represented by these heads of various kinds. It's really bizarre! So you wouldn't think that something could possibly embody this space. But they've been at it for years. By the time I came in touch to observe this space with this colleague, because he came along to give a seminar - and this was at Stanford, the Gestures and Dialogue group - and it was really funny because we ended up having a discussion with them. But this colleague was the one who represented us. What was interesting was when we'd be having a conversation amongst ourselves, they be saying 'Where are you? Are you being rude? We've been waiting here for you, you know. Are you still gonna communicate? I don't know what's going on.' So you were very aware that they were conscious. And at one point moved in too close, the head that we were supposed to be moved in too close, and they were 'wow please, mind, you're coming too close. You're invading my space.' So there was a sense in which they were feeling the environment, because it was curious. But I'm not sure that'll answer the question of whether you can witness.

CN: Well, let's just stay with this. So apparently through behavior, through conduct, shared conduct, the cognitive understanding of space can actually merge into feeling of a space?

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: So this is very interesting, this going from cognitive understanding to feeling.

SG: Yes.

CN: How do you see that? Because it's like a bridge it has to go over.

SG: I think it is a bridge, but I think it's also operating at a very unconscious level. And I think it's to do with the notion that you are somehow present in presence of others. Presence is very powerful in that sense.

I'll give you another example which is less dramatic, less visually rich. But it was of an earlier example. From Japan, where one of the lecturers was telling me - this was way back in 1999 - she was telling me that she had been running online courses. She had just started it. She'd done it for about a year, year and a half. And at the end of the first year of doing it, she swapped the groups around. These were distance learning students doing a course. None of them had met each other. The only communication they had was via a very basic interface, where you had questions, answers. It was all functional, no emotional discussions etcetera. Basically it's just about the work. And after a year she swapped her groups around and she got emails from them. They were very upset. They said she had not consulted them, before she swapped them around. She says they don't know the other people, these are strangers. And she was quite shocked at the feeling of connectedness that these people had to each other, who had never met! They were only communicating... There no informal discussions taking place, this is all just work. How could they possibly have created this sense of a group they had? And it was very strong.

CN: This is so interesting. Because in the current research one of the things that is surfacing is that if you get online worlds the trust... time is the beholder of trust in the online world, so it's about rhythm and synchronization.

SG: Yes, that fits.

CN: And actually it's the series of transaction out of which the sense of interaction evolves. So this is a very rich concept, which matches completely with your work. But I'm very interested in when is the series of transaction, when gives it the sense of interaction? Or when do feelings arise? And you say that the sense of presence is very powerful.

SG: Yes.

CN: Now I'm very curious...

SG: ... how is that created?

CN: Yes, but let's go to your music experience here. Because in music there's rhythm, there is also harmony. And notes can be heard for a long time, when the rhythm goes on. Silence, so absence, is actually part of the music.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: So how does presence evolve in music?

SG: Actually I want to go back to something just before this, which is very interesting. It's a point you just made. You said that transactions lead to...

CN: Interaction.

SG: Yes. Now, if we're face to face like now, you know the transactions are emerging out of our rhythm and coordination.

CN: Out, yes.

SG: Yes, so it may be that something that we've just... People say that the first moment you meet someone, the first few seconds, you begin to develop a kind of sense of how to engage. This is before you start going into any kind of negotiation or anything like that. So it's just the greeting itself that is powerful. How do you shake a hand? How do you say hello? Very powerful. And the trust that's... The feeling can you trust another, is in those first few moments. Now online you don't have that, you have to find it. So it takes longer. So I think there are different... the processes of... I think we have different trajectories going on. And online, yes transactions to action.

CN: Because are you... I thought you were gonna say that in the real world the synchronization and the rhythm, so the tuning of the rhythm, goes inside-out. And in the online world it goes outside-in.

SG: Yes that's what I'm saying. But in a different... But yes that is what I'm saying. Except that... Yes. So outside-in is that you have to wait for actions, then eventually you will find a way to coordinate. Or you will eventually just get there.

CN: But it's very interesting because that's....

SG: Where as, when I'm the same physical space as you, that's almost like something that needs to be achieved in order for a transaction to take place.

CN: Now I want... Let's just take this for a thinking experiment. Let's it's like this.

SG: Curious...

CN: It's very interesting. Trust emergence is inside-out in real life and outside-in in online life. Let's say we take this. It's a very nice simple understanding of a very big problem.

SG: Yes, yes. Sorry I interrupted you from the music thing.

CN: No, no... So, it goes outside-in. There is a moment for it to go inside. So this is where transaction becomes interaction, where it goes from cognitive understanding to feeling.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: Also where it goes form random noise to rhythm. And somehow we manage to tune online as well.

SG: Yes, yes we do.

CN: Now my assumption is... - I try to make a bold assumption, so you react. Imagine it's like this: That because I have a lot of musical experience with presence and absence, when I see your communication to me, your transactions to me, for me it becomes part of a piece of music I already have with me - I have patterns of presence and absence with me - I will try a bit, and the moment we find a shared musical piece we can collaborate, also online.


CN: That's one image. the other image is that you send me something, I send you something. I take, you know, polite forms. I use formats. When the format is, you know, there is some courage in having a few extra lines. I may answer that. You know, so it's very like that courting in the 19th century Victorian England.

SG: Right, yes, yes.

CN: Yes, so it's a very careful negotiation of opening up. You know it's like two armies having a negotiation. You don't tell your intentions. You just say 'Oh the weather is nice', 'Yes, the weather is nice'. It's a reason to next time not only say 'the weather is nice', but 'actually I have a very nice heater'. So it's a very careful negotiation, until the negotiation is done. Only then rhythm can start evolving. See the two different questions? So one is the music, where the rhythm is all already there and we just try to find a common composition. The other one, it's a very hard negotiation on survival level of armies negotiating their terms of openness.

SG: And the question is...

CN: How do you think in online worlds this happens? Which one of these models? Or maybe there's a third one we can think of. It's very interesting to understand how it goes from transaction to interaction.

SG: Yes, that is interesting.

CN: Cognitive understanding to feeling.

SG: See the army example, that has set conventions. It's like politics, there are set conventions. Well, they're not set in stone, they will evolve and change. But they are recognized inventions, it's like the corporate culture. So whereas the online world is neither of these. It doesn't have the advantage of a convention to draw upon and it doesn't have the spontaneity of a face to face dialogue. So it's a rather more fragmented world. And it's very interesting how it is that without the convention, without the spontaneous stutter... I think it's such an interesting question as to how it is that it is sort of in the online world that you can go from action to feeling. Because that is the moment that you feel that you are in rhythm with someone else. And I don't know Caro, Caroline. It's just a very interesting question.

CN: I feel that process of attribution and projection are very important to this

SG: Yes you have expectations of when someone...

CN: Well, if you see all the courting of young people with sms, you know. There is no more distance and longing for; you sms all the time. Or whether there is... There's a lot of reading of phrases that you can only understand in your own context, because you don't know this other person. Well let's make... And oh, I have a nice question. How come in a music piece different notes become one composition?

SG: I think it's the rhythm that ties them together.

CN: So the rhythm is more important than the melody?

SG: It's interesting that I recently started to learn the piano and this is one of the things I've learnt. It's precisely that, that the rhythm is more important than the melody. In sight reading tests for example, I've recently had to do, the focus was on get the rhythm right and the tune would be recognizable, as long as the notes were more or less in the right proximity. Focus on getting the notes right and you get the rhythm wrong, nobody recognizes anything. It's just noise. So, notes are in themselves of no musical worth if they are not timed. So the timing is very important. And that was a fascinating revelation to me, because that is when you can hear the melody. So...

CN: So can I ask you a next question? Because in rhythm there is more absence than presence. There is beat... beat... beat... beat... So... And there is this Tabla player, Sirish Kumar, I used to work with in England, who could adapt to any delay. He just said 'it's a different rhythm'.

SG: It's a different rhythm...

CN: It's not a four quarter... It's not a four beat, it's a sixty-four beat. And if the delay would change, he would say 'oh it's a fifty-nine beat'. So he would say, even if it's not recognizable as rhythm, it's still a rhythm to us.

SG: Yes.

CN: It's just that your body may know the rhythm, but your awareness doesn't know the rhythm. But it's a rhythm. As long as there are beats, there's a rhythm. But rhythm is mostly nothing. In between moments of 'yes' there is a long time 'no'.

SG: And that's a real challenge because it's something that people involved in conversation... They recognize that there are pauses. But I think that it's hard from a linguistic perspective to start thinking about the... this dimension of absence as part of the rhythmic beat. It's interesting. Yes. Sorry Caro, I'm just thinking.

CN: Me too.

SG: I think that when it comes to human interaction... I think there is something... Oh let's explore this. For example we just had a pause, but the pause has been filled with so many thoughts and a sense that the other will eventually move or say something or will do something. So the pause has meaning for each of us in different ways.

CN: So it's a sort of pause with intention?

SG: Yes.

CN: So maybe rhythm... The absence in rhythm is filled with intention, because the next beat will come or...

SG: Yes, you always have expectation, anticipation. So it's not an absent silence. So it's a silence with... where you're waiting.

CN: Yes.

SG: And you can allow that to happen if you're very comfortable with... you will just allow that expectation to float. Ian Cross for example at the Center for Music and Science talks about floating intentionality. So I thing there's a sense of the floating that you don't... you let it happen. Or knowing it will happen, you let it happen.

CN: This is very interesting. This would mean that to be able to experience the rhythm, you have to be capable to trust the anticipation.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: So here it turns inside-out again that the result of transaction becoming interaction is that a quality of trust will evolve.

SG: Yes.

CN: But you can only get there if you dare to trust in the first place that a rhythm will evolve.

SG: Yes.

CN: That intention is allowed to be, that anticipation does not make you a fool.

SG: You have to take that risk. But risk does involve trust... You will take that risk.

CN: So what happens when the beat doesn't come? What happens when the risk fails you? When it goes wrong - what goes wrong?

SG: Then you have to readjust your expectations, I think. Your rhythm will obviously alter. It will have a break.

CN: It's confusing.

SG: It would be confusing, slightly disorienting.

CN: Could you also argue when online, which I think I've seen around me and also noticed myself, when an online rhythm breaks it also effects your physical environment, your physical well-being.

SG: Yes, yes. I think that... I think that if you don't fit in the flow of an organization, then you do become ill. It does affect your health and well being. I think that... {...(52.32)...} is very interesting for me. He died tragically early this year, but was one of the great people working on synchrony. He was saying that synchrony was so important for us to be able to trust one another. Being able to be moving in synchrony is vital for us. And he said... He also made the point that it's very important for our well-being and emotional well-being. And he was saying that every culture... It's so important to human beings that we've created all these shortcuts of shaking hands, kissing on cheeks etc. to allow us for the possibility to trust. He said if we don't have these we'd be struggling to find each other and it would take us longer to reach that sort of a simultaneity that allows for that freedom of the body to relax and for us to be with another person.

So we're always trying to achieve that state of being with others. If... And that's so important for us, for our mental stability, emotional stability. Not being able to be with others leads to destabilization. And I think he was so right. He spent a lot of his time working in psychiatry and in clinical cases like autisms, schizophrenia and dyslexia etc. So he was very consent to understand the relationship between rhythm and health and well-being and mental well-being.

CN: So let's try to surface again. If we take this conversation to a witnessing perspective. We've got five minutes to talk or so. What would this mean for our insight in witness?

SG: I think we'd... Ah, we need to bring it back. We talked about inside-out and outside-in. We've got this business of rhythm and well-being. I think it needs the witness, the notion of witnessing, that needs to be stretched out.

CN: How do you mean stretched out?

SG: So when we first began the conversation I was thinking in terms of witnessing about being aware of something that's altered in the flow, which makes you attend to what it is that another person is doing. It could be, depending on context, what another person is thinking, what another person is feeling etc.. But as you were saying it's pointing to an intention, awareness of an intention, possibly. It could be that the beat, the pause has been too long. It could be that suddenly the person is absorbed in their own beat and he hasn't said or heard a word, that their self-reflection or whatever it is that they're doing is really out of sync with the environment. So that's another thing. It could be many reasons why a person is suddenly not in sync with the environment. I'm assuming that that is why a person is being witnessed. In the way we are talking here, yes.

CN: But if you are in online life..?

SG: In online life that becomes rather more curious. But I'm feeling it will be the same thing. Once you've achieved that kind of awareness of how it is that you are moving with each other. If one member doesn't do that

CN: No I think those are two different things because... One is to witness you have to be aware.

SG: Yes.

CN: The witnessing starts when there is maybe a little break in flow, but you can also be witness to each other when you are in flow together.

SG: Yes.

CN: So those are different kinds of witnessing.

SG: Different kinds of witnessing.

CN: I think.

SG: Yes.

CN: Don't you think so?

SG: Yes. I think we need to... This gets really interesting because I think that your concept of witness goes beyond maybe some narrow conception of witness. Because you're thinking in a much richer and wider sense of what does it mean to be aware of another person

CN: Yes and also what's interesting from what you say, until now I formulated 'witnessing is that you take responsibility for what you see and you have the possibility to act and interfere'. And if you now formulate witnessing as a synchronizing of rhythms or a creation of rhythms, then actually I do not have to do anything as long... but my rhythm will already be there, so my action is already happening. It's very interesting because the way you... The things you say... We will rewrite this conversation and think about it. Some things outside-in and inside-out are shifting. And to be able to get into rhythm for which trust will be the result, you have to trust the rhythm in the first place.

SG: Yes.

CN: You get the last few minutes.

SG: I think in the online environments there's the problem that the awareness of a shift may just take that bit longer. I don't know, I don't know. Depends on the environment. If it's like this very very close-knit community that's very private, as in this case of this colleague who's set up this sort of online world. That's a very specific kind of environment, it's a very specific group of people. They don't allow strangers in. So that is a closed world, almost like an island that's closed off with this little village community. And they gonna have a very particular patterns. That's very different from maybe more wider online environments which have much more... many more people and players. And there it may be that awareness of another's movements and actions... I don't know. I don't know enough about it, Caro.

CN: Because it would be interesting to do an anthropological study of those online islands, like they used to do in the nineteenth century or the sixteenth century.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: We have created new online islands for exploration.

SG: I am perplexed by something else though, in all of this, though. Which is that when I began my investigations of rhythm I was concerned about the distributed setting.

CN: Yes.

SG: And my concern was that the natural cues that you have from a face-to-face situation, because they're not available in a distributed setting. It makes harder for you to actually achieve very good results in working together? And I don't think... I... Somehow I don't address that yet.

CN: You have two lines... two minutes to address that. Do so.

SG: Yes.

CN: Two more minutes.

SG: I think it's... It was very interesting that it was proposed to me that problem is never resolvable in a distributed setting. That is because of the gap and because bodies are not physically able to move over a bar to cross, intertwine, that it's hard to share any kind of deep tacit knowing. And I'm wondering whether witnessing and the business of responsibility also involves this damage to the tacit.

CN: I think it does.

SG: I think it deeply does. And... Gosh. And I think that needs... that is a huge discussion to have. Because they... There is time. Time is important, but the physicality is also important. One thing I haven't addressed is the relationship of the body and... and time. The spatial dimension is what hasn't been dealt with. The spatial dimension is physical embodiment. So in the online environment we're disembodied, time is disembodied. Yes, we can have action to feeling. But that's still not the same. So it may be that the qualities of what we achieve in an online environment are different from the qualities in a face-to-face. So maybe how we may share a color, maybe how we may share a texture. A feeling about a line may be very different from, say, if we were drawing it together. Or sitting and looking at an art gallery together, looking at a particular painting together, getting in depth because something was ----

CN: You were addressing this. We were talking about space...

SG: And time.

CN: And time. And we did elaborate on time. And you said that we have not addressed space, embodiment of space.

SG: Yes, yes. And that may help to at least state... understand how time is enacted in the online environment or made sense of, compared to, say, in the face-to-face environment. I can't remember, where did the tape end?

CN: No, just... Please elaborate on this issue.

SG: So for example how does it is that one person comes to see a color with another or share a texture or... These things are... They're quite tangible, they are physically expressed. They are sensorial experienced. And how they are understood in a group or with others in a face-to-face context, is through the doing or the seeing or the... the experience of them with another. But in an online environment that's not possible, that physical embodiment is not possible. And then how it is that quality of what is perceived, the quality of how we share, an understanding of how we are perceiving something together in an online environment, would be done very different than in the face-to-face. And it may be that we're.. It's like when people, say, having communicated via email and then they meet the person for the first time and it's a totally different person. And it's almost as if they're two different worlds. And it is something to do with how it is that time is operating in the virtual space compared to how it's operating in this face-to-face.

So in the face-to-face you've got these vocal cues, body cues, gestural cues, which is how you connect with another. In the online environment you never access all of those. Ok, now they say you have video. You can see people in videos. And that raises interesting questions. I'm not sure how it alters... I mean yes, you can see... see another person and you can to some degree move with another person. But we know that if you put a piece of glass in between two people, you alter the sense of contact. So even if you can see someone, on a mobile phone or on your Skype, yes there is a greater degree of the access to the physical. But, it's still very different from the face-to-face and I'm not sure what the consequences of that are for... for the development of something that's... I think the word tacit is the one I keep reaching for.

CN: Can I ask you something else? One of the things is - this is what Jogi Panghaal also was speaking about - once you have had a profound experience it creates a longing in you for that experience and it's a reference from that moment on. So if you have tasted tomato and we have tasted the same tomato and I email you later, I make a reference to the tomato soup and suddenly that experience becomes available to us. So the reference to profound experience is very important. So children have to... Like if you see water, you know water from a faucet going down, and you have never seen water from a faucet going down, as a child you think it's a line. Unless you have had the experience of going through it with your finger, you know it's water. It's a very nice example from Mario Tokoro from Sony Research Japan.

SG: Yes, yes.

CN: So I think that actually that two things determine the possible, because it's very human capacity to project and attribute is very large. That's why poetry also works, why we have culture, why can listen to music. So one could even argue that this is sort of reviving of collective creative potential. Because a reference to profound experience is which makes online experience rich as well. But relation becomes the crucial... the crucial factor. Because if I'm in relation with you and I see you online, like I have with some of my online friends - I only see them very little. If I see you and I know you well, I will 'oh, she's tired, she's happy, she's open'. I can see a lot of things. Maybe even if I see your house I can get the smell back from your house. But it cannot alter this experience, the online, it can only reaffirm it.

SG: Yes. Yes, yes.

CN: So it cannot innovate in that sense.

SG: And they say that in order for online environments or online negotiations or online collaborations to be successful, people have to meet, in order to sustain the online environment. So there is something that people are aware when critical... when critical work needs doing, a critical discussion needs to be undertaken. Something that is, involves a deep amount of negotiation or ambiguity or stuff which is not functional or it has a high emotional content or high risk factor, they have to be face-to-face.

CN: Yes, I know this. But can you explain, because we have to round off, can you explain there is a rhythm in the real world and there's a rhythm in the online world. Like you can listen to a live performer in a live audience, you can also listen to a CD. I had a long conversation with Vibodh Parthasarathi about the change in transaction between the singer and the audience, how that changed to a CD. But from the rhythm perspective, what is embodied space?

SG: I think it's deeply face-to-face, direct contact with another person's physical body. It's like you can be in the same room, you can feel the touch of another even though you are not touching. It's just this... There is something in the space between our bodies that you can sense and feel how another person is. It may be just a slight movement, maybe they moved with their head. It may be the way their voice is projected at that moment. So the voice is also quite materialist, it's also very physical.

So the body is not just what's inside the skin and I think that's why the physicality is so powerful, being in the same physical environment with another that you can feel, sense. The body is extended out of the skin, the voice is extended out of the mouth. It's like it encompasses an entire space, like encompassing this room. And it projects a whole world of things. It projects how we're feeling, it projects how we might be thinking, it projects what we might be intending. We do so much with our bodies and our voices.

So the physical {...(08.55)...} intrinsically about is heightened and really only if we exist in the same physical space. Once that space is cut off by a piece of glass, I can still see your whole body, but I'm no longer able to... The body space has been cut off, there's no connection any more between all of this extension of the body and the voice. There's just this glass that's cutting right through the entire possible space of connectivity. So it's reduced then to what you're hearing and what you're seeing. That's a reductionism. It's like all of that richness of feeling a space by being in a space and sharing a space with another is suddenly cut down to a reductionism of the sound and the movement. And we're more than sound and movement. Our voices are much more than that, our bodies are much more than that. And I think that that's what gets... That is what we don't... That is what for me is interesting when you cut and slice it.

CN: So maybe we should look into membranes? You know there's permeable and all those things.

SG: Yes.

CN: Something go in and out two ways, one way... It's interesting.

SG: Yes. I think that's what's deep... That's what really interests me. And once you detach from that or distance from that, that part is... will compensate and we're trying to compensate for all of this other aspects of physicality. And that's why I think that the quality of sharing knowledge, information... It's... It's... Even if you can see each other on the video, it's still seeing. I'm not feeling your presence. I can project the sense and feel it. But the feeling is of a different kind. Qualitatively it would be of a different kind, which means that the nature of the connection is qualitatively very different. And I don't know what implications that has for trust etcetera, but I think it also effects the rhythm. Because my rhythm here is very subtle, it may be the slightest nuance, I feel it. It may just be your breathing, I feel it. Online I don't have access to that. So there's a whole richness of my connection with another which is fragmented when I'm online. So I have to try and piece it together, use my imagination. I think...

CN: Very good. Thank you very much for a very nice conversation.

SG: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. That was great.