Designing time

When creating a networked event, one is also designing time. Dramatic events change our sense of time. A minute of pain or a minute of a daily bicycle ride feel very different in duration. Time can be very intense and time can just slip away. In a show, time is very visible in the production plans that everybody works with: the technicians, the producers, the artists, and the production-assistants. When creating ideas for shows, I often start by schematising the timeline very quickly. If every speaker needs 10 minutes, and there are 8 speakers then the programme will last 8 x 10 minutes plus 3 minutes change over, which is over 100 minutes. So after 6 speakers we need a break in which so many people will drink so many coffees, so you need a break of at least half an hour to be able to serve everybody. Then there is only 1 hour left, so if you also want a debate of 30 minutes, you can still programme only 30 minutes. If you show a film for 20 it only leaves you another 10 minutes for 2 more speakers, so possibly the program is prolonged or one of the speakers is cancelled. Most important is how the audience will feel by that time.

One tries to design dramaturgic timelines that take account of the different attention modes of the audience during a show. People experience the duration of a show very differently. When it is boring it takes hours, when it is thrilling people forget about their own time. Time 'flies' in such a case. In creating shows, one tries to make time fly for the participants. To get them deeply involved. In designing networked events the design of time is complex. The time design of the physical gathering has to interact with the time spent in online environments. And when connecting online, one connects different time structures because people live in different cultures, which each have their specific time design.note 91 How does the physical communication relate to the online communication, how can one see what happens in the network in the physical space? The design of natural presence, mediated presence and the design of how and when people can witness each other's natural or mediated presence generate new issues of dramaturgy that are only beginning to be explored. In the case studies for this research, this new dramaturgy raises interesting issues as will be discussed later.