The intuition of designers and the meta-text multimedia education

When designing a party, an event, or an application simple questions become hugely important: how to enter, how to identify, how to meet, how to show yourself, how to leave traces, how to find another person, and many more. In the design processes of networked events, which include the design of the offline as well as the design of the online environment, these questions are solved in a variety of ways. Here I will discuss two networked events in which such interaction only lasted a few days. In all kinds of organizations (business, medical, educational, governmental, etc.) it is a question of vital importance how to orchestrate the dynamic between on and offline communication. By analysing these two events I will shed more light on the underlying issues of such dynamics.

In the design practice of Internet applications over the last 15 years these questions have been approached by the designers with a great deal of intuition. They have built on scientific insights concerning technology, and on scientific insights in psychology. Cultural studies and anthropology have also been used as inspiration. But I would like to argue that it is also in large part the intuition of designers that has defined how we perceive and act with digital culture today. Since we have had more than 15 years of work now, we can see that an underlying understanding, a meta text, has been developing. Maybe one could even call this a grammar. This meta text, in which certain things have become accepted almost to the point of being perceived as natural, is only now beginning to be discussed. Apart from conferences and publications, the character of this meta text, and of the accompanying body of knowledge, is being formulated in the design of the curriculum of the many new/multi/interactive media departments in universities all over the world that have been founded in the last decade. This study wants to contribute to this research by investigating the design of presence in these on- and offline environments.