Mental maps

A third effect of the cognitive clash in mediated presence, in contrast to natural presence, concerns the formation of mental maps. The moment of the confrontation between intention and realization is the moment where a mind set is challenged. One has to let go of the mental map that one has made, and willingly or not one has to confront the result of the work as perceived by others, as perceived by one self.

Success and failure are declared, even though time will in some instances change perceived notions of success or failure since they are also connected to political and power relationships. But the confrontation between intention and realization offers a moment where cognitively an actor cannot unÐlearn. There may be factors that prevent the learning. The feedback has to be accepted and perceived. It is hard to keep your mind open when original ideas and mental maps of a situation prove to be erroneous. Whether we speak about creating and doing things or whether we speak about operating with other people in constellations of dependency and power, it is difficult for human beings to question their previously perceived input about a situation. The previously perceived input about a situation is often coloured by intentions. The confrontation with the realization can shatter this image completely, a very unpleasant experience for most of us. It is hard to realize and even more hard to admit. One may make the same mistakes a thousand times, nevertheless, each time the confrontation with the mistake one has made remains. Some learn fast, some learn slowly, and some things none of us will ever learn, so we simply decide not to do these things anymore.

Mediated presences influence the mental maps of the communication processes to which they contribute. Mediated communication can deeply affect the mental map of a situation because it is understood in the context of the connection to which natural presence did or did not contribute. If people interact socially without having met each other, processes of attribution and contextualization define the mental maps that people have of such interactions. How mental maps of social interaction evolve is part of a larger question about the nature and quality of social interaction in the era of modernity, which is characterized by acceleration (Virilio 1984) and by an increase of scale (Surowiecki 2004), and which are both intensified by information and communication technologies. The points and numbers of contact are multiplied while the duration of social interaction is shortened and this deeply influences how people perceive and understand the world around them. When larger groups of people collaborate in solving certain problems new ways of establishing knowledge and solutions occur. Acceleration and increase of scale introduce new dynamics to social interaction. They affect the clash between intention and realization: what feedback is expected, what thresholds define perceptions, how causality is understood, what responsibility and capacity are sensed