Producing mediated presence

Mediated presence is dependent upon technology, which has to function as expected. It requires expertise, resources and good production values. Mediated presence is dependent upon the infrastructures technology uses: electricity cables, servers, satellites and others. Companies and governments own these infrastructures and they decide at what cost these infrastructures may be used and by whom, when and where, and they decide what connections are made available.

When access is easy, it makes the technology (and its owners) disappear and the information and communication flourish. Easy access involves interfaces that are intuitive and simple to use, and this demands quality in software and interaction design. Easy access also requires that the setting up of the technology be no stumbling-block, which demands good hardware- and infrastructure design and the necessity for financial and judicial circumstances to be in place. Because people do not realize what happens to their data, most people simply use it as they please; they enjoy the possibilities and settle for the opaque conditions that they act within. Usually, users of infrastructures do not know, and often do not care, where their data is going, or where it is stored. It is also unclear who has access to their data, and under what circumstances, and it is unclear who decides about the issues of integrity and privacy protection.

To be able to connect one needs physical and psychological energy. To be able to handle the technology and to be able to enter into mediated presences one needs energy. Processes of attribution and the use of media schemata require attention and attention requires energy. An environment that offers 24/7 availability sounds like a context in which an endless adaptation to personal time zones is facilitated. However, it lacks momentum for communication and therefore it does not function as a context.

People appreciate being connected. It confirms one's existence and it confirms that it is possible to transcend the boundaries of time and place and reach out to another human being in other time/space configurations, which a meeting in natural presence could not facilitate. Connections like to be confirmed; by exchanging feedback using the same format in the same technology, and also by using other formats in other technologies and eventually meeting in natural presence. To be connected is often the ultimate aim of the connection. In social interaction the information that is exchanged only partly matters, as long as the connection is confirmed through a series of immediate feedback moments. When natural presence and witnessed presence form part of the same communication process, they make mediated presence more 'real'. Whether mediated presence is actually true is impossible to prove. At a certain moment we settle for a certain acceptance of probability.

Mediated presence is edited and framed by the formats that the technology offers. Mediated presence can also be edited and framed by people within the formats that the technology offers. Combinations of information and communication facilities make mediated environments attractive. Cognitive and emotional layers of consciousness are addressed in this way (which includes two out of the three layers of proto, core and extended consciousness) and the presence experience becomes stronger. I argue that the stronger the presence experience that is offered by mediated presences the more they will be allowed to contribute to the evolving taxonomy that a certain community shares. The more mediated presences contribute to taxonomies, the more 'real' they will be experienced up to the point that they are considered to be as real as certain elements that natural presence can produce.