People I know and people I do not know

Among the crowds that characterize the many urban environments we distinguish 'the mass' and 'people we know'. We perceive the presence of others with various degrees of attention depending on how we are related to the person we perceive. Particularly in busy city streets, we are able to perceive and blinker part of our perception at the same time. We focus on our own movement and do not concern ourselves with other people. We can move anonymously in any crowd until the moment that we meet someone we know. The moment that we are recognized, our environment changes. We are seen, and this affects the nature of our actions. Because we are witnessed our actions can be testified to. It might be pleasurable to be seen, but we might also feel trapped when being seen by this or that person. The way our presence is perceived deeply influences our presence, influences how we will direct our next acts, how we will proceed with enacting our being. This is why I propose the formulation of this kind of presence as witnessed presence.

In the description of presence technologies it becomes clear that being witnessed or not being able to witness certain actions affects the way people act, both in natural and in mediated presence. Witnessed presence assumes an effect on natural and on mediated presence; it has implications for the way people 'enact their being' in natural presence and it also has implications for how people 'enact their data-identity' in mediated presence. Because I am interested in the question of how to design presence in such a way that social interaction respects human dignity as it is formulated in the UDHR, I will focus on the effect of witnessing and being witnessed in this study. Before a person acts in relation to another person, one first has to perceive, to witness, this other person. In the UDHR human rights are formulated that wish to influence how people perceive each other and act upon the understanding of this perception towards each other. I assume the act of witnessing to include both the perception of another person and the understanding of this perception on which subsequent actions will be based.