Mediated Presence contributes to culture(s)

Through mediating presence one can reach out to another human being in different time/space configurations, which a meeting in natural presence could not facilitate, and people really appreciate this. When connecting in mediated presence, only elements of the human being can be mediated. Input is not output; only bits are exchanged. People can handle this very well because they contextualize and attribute missing elements to the communication.

Natural presence facilitates changes in attitude, whereas mediated presence facilitates an exchange of opinions when present in the public/professional setting. The survival value of natural presence is much greater than mediated presence and this influences the quality of conversation. In natural presence all three levels of consciousness can be mobilized in one action, in one conversation. The more these three levels are mobilized, the more powerful the presence experience. The more powerful the presence experience, the more 'survival' resonates in what happens, the more powerful the outcomes of a gathering of the crucial network will be. 'Powerful outcomes' reflect the (changed) power structures in the network, and also how every node in the crucial network will proceed from there. In chapter 4 I wrote: "Crucial networks create vital information for social survival. Possible change is generated through a process of collaborative authoring of outcomes in which design and orchestration are distinct". Mediated presences can provide input into such processes. Because they contribute to the evolving taxonomies they play an important role in the orchestration and in the design. When the crucial network has to confront issues of an ethical nature, the physical gathering is indispensable for the collective authored outcomes to support well-being and survival. Catharsis cannot occur anywhere, anytime, it has to happen here and now, with everybody present. The fact that no mediated presence exists without natural presence and the fact that in natural presence the personal ethical experience is most profound makes natural presence distinct.

Mediated presence is edited and framed by the technology, it is also edited and interpreted within these frameworks by people using the technology. Mediated environments that offer both information and communication facilities are attractive. The more layers of consciousness that can be addressed, the stronger the presence experience. Previous knowledge and opinions (including prejudices), media schemata and processes of attribution, synchronization and adaptation define how people receive and contextualize the mediated presences they perceive. Other media also influence the media schemata of a particular mediated presence. Mediated environments contribute to the taxonomies of communities. When mediated presence generates vital information, it can add elements to natural presence which natural presence otherwise would not have possessed. Vital information creates the bridge between mediated and natural presence in a very convincing way.

Cultures evolve when time is shared over longer periods. This also occurs in mediated presence. The value of mediated presence cultures is ultimately judged by the contribution they make to the natural presence of their participants. In mediated presence cultures confusion can easily arise about who is doing what in terms of the hardware, software and 'wetware' (human beings). Also the rules of engagement are not clear: politically, economically and judicially. However, being able to operate technology increasingly determines our capacity for survival in a world that is developing a techno-diversity as complex as bio-diversity. Processes of adaptation are taking place. Our actions feed back into our brains and this influences our perceptions, which influence our actions and so forth. These adaptation processes influence our capacity to operate technologies. The variety of technologies is changing our identities because they change our capacity and possibilities for survival and therefore they influence our natural presence in its essence. The nature of our 'utterances' has certainly changed because of technology; they can reach any place any time. When our words, sounds and images become our deeds, there is no longer any mediated presence. The mediation of presence is an act itself. The implications of this possible trend demand an even more rigorous normative approach than this study facilitates.

In mediated presence 'place' as a context of social interaction has disappeared, which is why the relationship, and most of all the connection itself, is the context of the social interaction when mediating presence. In the relationship between two people involved in social interaction by means of mediated presence, each possesses their own natural presence as well as a perception of the relationship as a context for understanding what is taking place. People distinguish how they relate to each other in the dimension between You and not-You. In mediated presence, and particularly when this permits the witnessing of each other's behaviour, a sense of 'place' can also evolve. This issue is addressed in presence research from a psychological and technological perspective (physics, chemistry and mathematics are all part of this). Whether a culture of mediated presences can generate a sense of place that is also capable of nurturing processes of catharsis is unclear at the present time and would require further research.