Being Here

In the 1990s the ‘being-here’ perspective on presence design is initially overshadowed by the many commercial promises of technology to create time and place independent connections and communities. The possibilities of the new technologies are also, however, explored in less commercial settings aimed to contribute to local communities.

Felsenstein’s Community Memory project in San Francisco, the Domesday project in the UK, Geocities in the USA and for example the Digital City of Amsterdam, facilitate thousands of people to explore and co-design online experiences in the emerging digital culture at the time (Castells 2001). The quest in these initiatives was to create added value by using ICT technologies for local community involvement. The challenge was and is to make the ‘being there’ of relevance to the ‘being here’.
This is also the perspective taken by Gullstrom in which the influence of framing in architecture leads to the basis for new architectures for presence in which other places through elaborate visual perspectives, with or without the use of technology, are made present as ‘being-here’ (Gullstrom 2010).
In 2007 Nevejan claims there is a direct relation between design for presence and design for trust in the emerging network society in which on- and offline realities merge in which ultimately the ‘being-here’ is distinct (Nevejan 2007). Mediated presence contributes to language and concepts we as people share, but natural presence, the being-here, is distinct because it holds the ethical dimension of an individual life. The physical steering towards well-being and survival is distinct for our individual lives and is distinct from how we touch each others lives, as discussed below. In pain we respond different to our environment than when we are healthy and fit. When being in each other’s physical presence, we can literally care for each other. When in conflict, physical presence allows for more expression in both aggression and compassion. Communication with others, who have other perceptions and convictions, has more bandwidth in natural presence than in mediated presence. This is a reason why project teams at the beginning and at the end of a project often come together in real life. Then they can ask “What is good to do?” and “Is it good what we do?”.

CN , Frances Brazier