Establishing trust and truth

As a concept, presence does not only have philosophical, biological, psychological and technological dimensions. It also affects sociological structures. A considerable amount of research into the development of information and communication technology has focused on how to transmit and translate presence via technology. Over the last century technologies have been developed to mediate presence that have deeply influenced the way people organize their day-to-day lives. The popular acceptance of these technologies has created a new range of behaviour and patterns of social interaction. Furthermore, in the last few decades many public services and business structures have embedded ICT deeply into their systems.

Today, human beings are faced with multiple presences in multiple ICT systems when going about their daily lives. The way modern societies organize and negotiate trust and truth are based on the concepts and structures that were developed before these technologies were developed. For many centuries presence was understood to be a person's physical presence. Physical presence has been, and still is in large part, one of the organizing structures in our modern societies. In schools and at work presence is measured and has an effect on the evaluation of the performance of students and employees. In legal cases 'being present' is often required by law. Within the dynamics of the web of social relationships that any community is composed of, presence is connected to the way trust and truth are negotiated. To be present at a certain moment, in a certain place and to have one's actions witnessed by another person who is also present at the same moment in the same location is considered to be proof of one's presence there and then. Presence is actually one of the primary mechanisms that people use to establish trust and truth.