Synchronizing with others

The inspiration for this paper comes from two sources. The first is my research in rhythm in human communication and mediated interaction. Rhythm is considered here primarily in its sense as flow (from its etymology in rhythmos which is related to rein that in turn means flow (OED)), and as a quality of life. Various definitions of rhythm from psychology, music, kinesics and anthropology are explored in this paper, and they share a sense of flow.

My interest in rhythm has been stimulated by the growing research on understanding how our bodies move with voice and how voices move with each other in synchrony, and the role of rhythm in facilitating human communication and shaping social presence. The second motivation is to develop a conceptual framework of rhythm in embodied interaction. The movement of body and voice in time has an affect on how we engage, make sense of each other, and transfer information. This is explored through three inter-related and sometimes overlapping notions of entrainment, synchrony and rhythm. Rhythmic synchrony is fundamental to human sociality (Cross 2006) and sense-making (Gill 2007), and this suggests that the distributed setting be investigated in this light to understand the impacts on human communication. The concept of entrainment has been of particular interest to music researchers as it provides a framework for explaining and measuring how we temporally perceive music, and how we are able to move in time together with music.