Reboot9 — Leisa Reichelt: Ambient Intimacy [en]

*Here are my notes, unedited and possibly misleading, blah blah blah, of the Reboot9 conference.*

Ambient intimacy, a name Leisa made up to express the way we are connected through all these tools.

Photograph of one’s bedroom. Rather private, huh?

Flickr, Twitter, etc: keep us informed of small things going on in people’s lives which we wouldn’t know otherwise. Creepy or exciting?

Leisa Reichelt

As a good consultant, Leisa found herself compelled to come up with a name for this weird creepy exciting feeling: ambient intimacy. Floating, diffuse. Intimacy is closeness, basis of friendship, etc…

– 30 boxes: “situational awareness”. A bit too task-focused.
– Om Malik: “hyper-connectivity”, like justin.tv. Not that either, because you’re not always “on”. It’s a trail.
– Dave Linabury: “hive mind” in a blog comment.
– Andrew Duval: “lice picking” (*steph-note: we could say “grooming” instead.*)
– Ito & Okabe: “distributed co-presence”, 2005 — more the mechanics than the effect
– etc…

Actually, the concept goes back quite a while. Twitter made it visible to us, but it actually even predates the internet. Text messaging. Ongoing background awareness of others.

Easier now to broadcast/communicate with a larger network. On Facebook, teens regularly communicate with about a dozen or so contacts, though they have 100-150 “friends”.

Dunbar, etc.

Seeing your teacher in a shop. Weird! The teacher doesn’t count in your monkeysphere if you see her in the classroom only, because she remains one-dimensional. Basically, seeing people outside “context” makes you see them in a different light.

“Intimacy” better than “co-presence”, because this is about human relationships and supporting them.

The village green. (*steph-note: third places*)

Leisa lives in a neighbourhood where people know each other.

Being careful how we represent ourselves online. When I twitter something, it can be googled later. A great way to shape the way that others see you online.

Are these people **really** friends, then? We need to make a judgement about how authentically people are representing themselves online. => taxonomy of relationships.

Phatic expressiveness for virtual spaces. 140 characters is fine for that. People who complain about lack of content are completely missing the point about Twitter. Phatic expression: sole function is to perform a social task. (*steph-note: “we are in contact!” or verbal lice picking…)

David Weinberger: “continual partial friendship”
Johnnie Moore: “it’s not about being poked and prodded, it’s about exposing more surface area for others to connect with.”

Twitter: love it, or hate it. We who love it think that people who don’t like it, don’t get it. It’s a bit patronising. There are quite enough people who *do* get it but don’t like it.

E.g. Kathy Sierra: is it false connectedness?

If we’re not careful, we can trick our brain into thinking we’re having real social interaction. (*steph-note: didn’t get who said that.*)

We’re craving attraction, cf. Generation Me, chapter 4.

For Leisa, these online social interactions are not the social equivalent of junk food.

Ambient intimacy is not a **replacement** for real-life interaction.

Atmospheric communication.

Writing and receiving communications which are not intended to receive full attention.

Leisa doesn’t feel like IM/Twitter etc. prevent her from doing whatever she is doing. The interruptions are stressful according to Kathy Sierra, and prevents one from reaching the state of flow.

David Weinberger: it helps that the volume of flow information is so high that there is no expectation that it is all followed. “Hey dude, I twittered it two days ago!” is not a valid excuse today.

If it bugs you, distracts you, well, shut it down for a while. Is that too simple?

Design to support ambient intimacy. Think about ambiance.

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