Before I file away (or accidentally lose) my Reboot notebook I thought I’d transcribe a few of the handwritten notes I took whilst listening to some of the presentations I attended. Some of them are my paraphrasing… I’ll put quote marks around those that I’m fairly confident are verbatim quotes.
(Note that the number of notes taken… or whether in fact any notes were taken at all, is not proportional to the interestingness of the talk. I didn’t take any notes on Matt Webb’s talk and very few on Johnny Moore’s and they were both particularly interesting :)
Further note – these people said many more interesting things than what I noted down… in fact… it’s quite possible that some of the most interesting ones didn’t get noted down because I was too busy listening to what they were saying :)
We should be more interested in artificial emotion than artificial intelligence
Emotion is governed by meaning and value, which makes it more efficient than a computer (less heat coming off the tops of our heads!)
Emotions are more efficient than intelligence
People will accept losing money to ensure fairness. We don’t want to lose money to a computer tho’, as we know it is not vulnerable to the idea of fairness.
The gift economy is about to dominate the market economy [I wrote this down and put a big question marke next to it because Tor didn't go on to explain where this gift economy was coming from... have I been missing out on an avalanche of gifts lately or something? Anyone know more about this?]
Roszak 1979 Person/Planet – the needs of the planet are the same as the needs of the individual. If one is in crisis, so is the other.
Flow – we are like flames, or riveres, or flows of things. We are not ‘things’. We are a system.
90% of the atoms in your body are replaced every year
Permanent reincarnation – the matter changes all the time but we retain our identity. (Like digital media – never lose the information).
Dare, Share, Care —> Attention —> Sex, Jobs, Recognition
‘Sex is the origin of all that is noble’
The killer app for Civilization 2.0 is links.
Albert Einstein – ‘Remember your humanity and forget the rest’
A legion of men may look like a machine, but it is built on an intense social unit (a tent of 8 men who live together for about 20 years) and nodal leadership (the centurians).
We are most hapy in a group of approximately 7 or 8.
Twitter is like being ‘in the tent’
Kids who do well are kids who learn 300 words by 2yrs old. They learn via conversation and need to have heard 50 million words by 2 yrears. They need to hear conversation to get an ideal development trajectory.
Experiment where you have a baby and a mother, and you put them in two different rooms with a video link. The mother does what mothers do… mirrors the baby’s talk and actions back – baby is fine. Add in a 2 second time delay. Baby freaks out.
I spent some time last week at the fabulous Reboot conference and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share some ideas around concept of Ambient Intimacy, which I continue to find fascinating. It was great to have the opportunity to develop and share my thoughts.
I’ve shared my slides on SlideShare although I’m not sure how much sense they make on their own… I can’t seem to work out the ‘notes’ functionality that I think (or perhaps imagined) that Slideshare has, so I’ll give you a quick overview of the concepts here. (Note… this is definitely the Cliff notes version. I have heard rumours of a video… if that materialises I’ll try to post a link here… this post isn’t intended to give you all the detail of the 40 minute talk tho!)
Soooo… as you probably know, Ambient Intimacy is a term to describe that sense of connectedness that you get from participating in social tools online that allow you to feel as though you are maintaining and, perhaps in fact, increasing your closeness with people in your social network through the messages and content that you share online – be it photographs or text or information about upcoming travel.
There are lots of other terms that people have used to describe this kind of connected experience including Situational Awareness, Hyper-Connectivity, Hive Mind, Social Presence, Distributed Co-Presence etc. I still prefer Ambient Intimacy because it combined the human ‘ickyness’ of ‘intimacy’ with the distributed and non-directional nature of ‘ambiance’.
I talked about the ethnographic research that came out of Japan about teenagers using text messaging to create techno-social spaces that allowed them to remain connected despite geographical distance and it’s uncanny similarity to the current experience of tools such as Twitter or Jaiku. And then took it back even before the internet and mobile phone, back to our primate days when we socialised by picking fleas. Of course, we ended up using language as a more efficient means of socialising… tool that facilitate Ambient Intimacy that allow us to further amplify our social chatter possibly allowing us to maintain social groups greater than Robin Dunbar anticipated, perhaps.
Perhaps not tho’, because for people to count in your ‘MonkeySphere’, they need to be multidimensional – that is, more than a Twitter username or a FaceBook profile. Just like when you were a kid you could be surprised to find your teacher in the supermarket or in a restaurant – it had never entered your head as a child that your teacher could be anywhere other than your classroom!
So, in the end, as Dunbar theorised, it comes back to the neocortex and your ability to recall and assimilate all the information about your fellow primates and how they fit together in your tribe. My neocortex isn’t up to more than 150 (Dunbar’s number), I suspect. Is yours?
I talked a little about the difference between self presentation online and offline, and how maintaining your ‘image’ offline is much more hard work that maintaining it online – how often maintaining it online is as much about omission than anything else eg. only Twittering when you’re doing really cool stuff. This, for me, leads to questions about authenticity & trust. Are these people online really your friends? And how do you *know* this if you don’t know them offline?
So… what is Ambient Intimacy good for? I think it’s incredibly good at providing phatic expression online. Phatic expression being the language we use for the purpose of being social, not so much for sharing information or ideas. It’s like the virtual ‘what’s up?’ or ‘how’re you doing?’
There are a million places on line for you to develop and expound upon your life changing thesis, but for me, Ambient Intimacy is the village green of the global village.
David Weinberger calls it Continual Partial Friendship. Johnnie Moore says that it ‘exposes more surface area for others to connect with’. I think it can be incredibly powerful.
What I’ve noticed is that Ambient Intimacy is quite polarising. For as many people that love it, there are plenty who intensely dislike it. There are two key issues at play here, I think – the first is the idea that the communication is actually not high value at all, and perhaps even causes cognitive dissonance and stress. This is an idea that Kathy Sierra posited in her post ‘Is Twitter TOO good?’. Many people find the idea of communications that weren’t particularly created for them and don’t necessarily require their attention somewhat distasteful. All of this periphery communication can also mean that we are in a state of Continuous Partial Attention, and not achieving the state of flow that our brains like so much.
I think that we need to take some personal responsibility for perhaps switching off the feeds if we know we’re liable to distraction and we need to maintain focus. I also love David Weinberger’s take on this, which is that ‘it helps that the volume of flow is so impossibly high that there’s zero expectation that anyone is keeping up. ‘hey dude, what didn’t you know that? I like twittered it two days ago’ is just not a reasonable complaint’.
Of course, there is a challenge for designers of current and future applications to help support us in maintaining focus when we need to without disconnecting us from our network. For me, this is all around design interpretations of ambiance. Having just enough impact to create an effect without being overly demanding and needy.
Even just being at Reboot and having some great conversations has helped me develop some more thoughts about Ambient Intimacy, in particular the economics of it within a network. I’ll be writing up some of those thoughts in the very near future.
UPDATE: if you’re reading this via RSS you may not be able to see the slides I’ve included above. Check them out on the blog or go see them on Slideshare.
well, it seems it is for me this year! Here’s what I’m up to:
Reboot 9.0 – I’m off to Copenhagen at the end of the month to go to Reboot for the first time. I’ve heard rave reviews of this conference and can’t wait to experience it myself. I’m going to be talking about Ambient Intimacy (in the middle of preparing the presentation right now and *really* enjoying it!)
Enterprise 2.0 – then in June, it’s off to Boston to talk about Social Project Management (Everything Big is Small Again) at Enterprise 2.0. I’m slated to for the ungodly timeslot of 8am which will probably work well with my jetlag, but I’m almost not expecting an audience! ;)
User Experience Week – come August, I’m terribly excited about going to Washington DC to be a part of Adaptive Path’s User Experience week, where I’m going to do an extended mix of the Washing Machine talk and tackle the exciting yet hairy question of how us designers can better engage with agile practices.
d.Construct – if I’d have known that I’d end up speaking in between Jared Spool and Peter Merholz, I probably would have thought twice about agreeing to speak at d.Construct… eh, who am I kidding, this is *the* conference in the UK that I’ve been most looking forward to going to, especially since this year’s theme is ‘Designing the User Experience’, I would have said yes just to make sure I got a ticket!
So, exciting times ahead! I’m putting in a bulk order for rescue remedy ;)
Hope to see you guys at one or more of these events!
I was on a panel at the IA Summit over the weekend titled ‘where does IA fit in the design process‘. I was staking a case for Agile UCD, and these are the slides I used to outline my case in 5 minutes or less (Of course, you could talk about this topic for hours, so this is very much just an overview!).I’d be interested to hear your thoughts/experiences!
My name is Leisa Reichelt. I am the Head of User Research at the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office.
I lead a team of great researchers who work in agile, multidisciplinary digital teams to help continuously connect the people who design products with the people who will use them and support experimentation and ongoing learning in product design.
If you're interested in working with me or would like to talk more please email me