Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Communities of the Moment & The Role of Place

As we continue in our UCaPP world, digital experiences are becoming less solitary and much more about our interconnection with others - our collective experiences.

Collective consciousness isn't anything new and yet we have only begun to explore what its implications could mean for the creation of networked communications.

One idea that's been milling around in my head is the notion of communities of the moment. Groups that come together around an idea, subject or place but only for a short period of time.

Let me give an offline example that I started thinking about after I bumped into Bob Jacobson's book in progress referencing exemplary cases of experience design.

I went to the Viet Nam memorial for the first time on a Mother's day. If you haven't been there, next to the Yad Vashem in Israel, it was probably the most powerful memorial I have ever experienced. Seeing it in pictures cannot capture the experience of walking down the path and slowly having the wall with the names of the dead increase until you are practically drowning heads below them. Even more, the five minutes of the walk connects you not only to those names, but also to the individuals who are there with you - the hands on the wall, the mother day's cards and flowers, the veterans in their army garb.

What struck me in particular, was how connected I felt to all those other people, none of whom i knew, simply because they had been at the same place at the same time as me. For those five minutes, we were all having some sort of collective immersive experience.

I can't quite think of any digital experiences that have captured that. I realize probably comparing very emotional memorials is a bit of an unfair comparison, but still I wonder is something to the notion of creating communities of the moment?

*Mark if you have a direct link to a definition send it to me and I'll repost directly to you....

Update: link updated and Mark has given some great exerts in the comments...


Mark said...

Actually, Leigh, I define UCaPP - Ubiquitously Connected and Pervasively Proximate - in my long piece, Why Johnny and Janey Can't Read, and Why Mr. and Ms. Smith Can't Teach, to which Harold Jarche has referred. If I may:

Unlike we who were socialized and acculturated in a primarily literate societal ground, in which our experience with technology and media is primarily within a linear, hierarchical context – all artefacts of literacy – today’s youth and tomorrow’s adults live in a world of ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity. Everyone is, or soon will be, connected to everyone else, and all available information, through instantaneous, multi-way communication. This is ubiquitous connectivity. They will therefore have the experience of being immediately proximate to everyone else and to all available information. This is pervasive proximity. Their direct experience of the world is fundamentally different from yours or from mine, as we have had to adopt and adapt to these technologies that create the effects of ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity.

The UCaPP world – ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate – is a world of relationships and connections. It is a world of entangled, complex processes, not content. It is a world in which the greatest skill is that of making sense and discovering emergent meaning among contexts that are continually in flux. It is a world in which truth, and therefore authority, is never static, never absolute, and not always true.

Mark said...

And a comment on the post itself:
We experience "communities of the moment" all the time in physical space - demonstrations and protests, theatre audiences (especially after a great experience), conventions, town-hall meetings, emergency situations, to name but a few. From an ethnomethodological perspective they might be interesting simply because they are part of everyday human experience.

In the online world, I can think of several instances, now many years ago when I was active on IRC, that I could describe as a community of the moment in your context, complete with collective and common emotional experience. There's also Derrick de Kerckhove's musings on The Planetary Mind: Collective Intelligence in the Digital Age

Leigh said...

Hi Mark,

Yes that is the link i was looking for!

And, the pieces you've pulled out will be very useful to me for something unrelated to the post I"m working on. Articulate as always.


Leigh said...

I should reread Derricks book.
But what's the IRC?

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