From September 2005 to June 2006 a team of thirteen scholars at the The University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication explored how new and maturing networking technologies are transforming the way in which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.

This site documents the process and the results.

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Intimate Visual Co-Presence and Pervasive Image Capture and Sharing

For the 2005 Ubiquitous Computing conference I helped run a workshop on Pervasive Image Capture and Sharing and I put in a position paper on "Intimate Visual Co-Presence." After our discussions of locative media, I realized that it is an example of mapping relations between personal and spatial relations.

Basically, it is a riff on some of the earlier work I did with Daisuke on technosocial situations like "ambient virtual co-presence" that were being supported by ongoing, lightweight text message exchange. With the advent of camphones, photos have entered this stream of exchange. Christian Licoppe has been talking about similar dynamics in terms of "connected presence." The idea of ongoing lightweight connection is a common refrain in mobile society research, but the addition of visual information adds an interesting twist.

If you take a look at the papers in the workshop, you'll get a sense of the emerging research in this area. There is work not represented there, like Rich Ling's work on camphone use by professionals. Mostly, the work so far reports on early emergent practices of camphone use or experimental studies where users were seeded with devices or reimbursed for usage fees, removing some of the existing barriers to picture sharing. For the perspective of locative media and more generally of networked publics, picture sharing is interesting in that it brings ambient environmental information into the flow of everyday interpersonal exchange. Desktop image and video sharing (ie. video conferencing) has never been terribly attractive. Who wants to stare at somebody else's office and head except maybe when explicitly engaged in conversation? When you turn the camera outward to the world at large, then it becomes and interesting way to share ambient, ongoing, locational information.

The work that I report on in this short paper was an experimental study we did with a moblog system where users could do ongoing uploading and viewing of images with their mobile phones. The communication was restricted to a fixed group of couples or close friends, keyed to the intimate modality of most mobile communications. We found multiple modalities of photo capture and sharing, but the one that stood out to me was the intimate sharing of ambient visual information between couples. This seems to me an interesting and intimate-scale cut on the problematics of locative media and geospatial web conversations which tend to be addressinga more abstracted and meta scales of mapping and location-based meaning making. It is a short paper, so if you are interested, take a quick read of the pdf which can be found here.

Submitted by mito on December 16, 2005 - 1:30am


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