Gathering Clouds

It’s been a while since the last blog post, the project has been plugging away and I’m really not very good at staying up to date with uploading it here. Ever project I tell myself I will, and it never happens. Nothing new there.

I had a few weeks researching online friendships, how the cloud could and will be harnessed to create and maintain friendships over the internet. Friendships of this format have their advantages; location is not important, age (within restrictions) and enables those who find physical, ‘real’ relationships difficult to maintain – those whose disability hinders them socially, or those who find social interactions difficult with new people. The internet, and particularly advancements in cloud computing will allow these people to access and take part in friendships they would not normally have in the ‘real’ world. In short, cloud computing allows you to target people for particular reasons; you can view, access their personal data, skills and characteristics, their personality and decide whether this is a person you would like to get to know, interact with, have a relationship with.

I looked into online friendships at the moment, they are quite … static. Chatrooms can be highly sporadic in their usage and reply rate – dependant on the language that you post a comment in and whether or not you have a profile picture displayed. It is safe to say that online friendships do not have the same faceted appearance as ‘real’ relationships. they are simpler in terms, but also intricately laced with guesswork, fake identities and uncertainties. Online friendships take place (at the moment) mainly through type, with the occasional addition of webcam or videoskype. A lot of human interaction is lost when you reduce communication to these simple forms – tone of voice, tempo, sarcasm to name a few, but also the connection that human beings have during interactions – the Social Brian – which tunes into the emotional state of the person we are communicating with. it’s fascinating stuff. Your social brain allows you to read the other person in ways that they are not expressing in words, body language of facial expression – it allows you to read the consensus in a room after a discussion, even before that consensus has been announced. You get a sense of the other person, their feelings and emotions at the moment. All of this is being currently lost in online relationships, you just don’t get as much of the other person coming across.

Having said that, the way that our friendships, especially online friendships are beginning to turn is to the disposable. Collecting facebook friends for numbers, twitter ‘followers’ (not even friends – what does the language say about the relationship?) you are connected to for business of personal gain.

I have decided to focus on this element of cloud computing, exploring the human elements and behaviours behind increasingly disposable ‘friendships’.

I started by returning to the idea that ‘clouds’ are getting increasingly smaller. first, the Internet, then Social networks, now we are seeing small businesses and companies having their own cloud, replacing traditional intranets. It is only a matter of time before we have our own personal clouds, containing all previously save-able digital work, photographs, music etc but also your memories, thoughts, experiences – the areas that make up your personality, ensuring a truer online character. We are going to be living more and more in the clouds, they should portray us.

So I have been looking at how we will use these personal clouds, as collection banks of our own memories and experiences, our knowledge. Enabling ourselves to more freely share this knowledge with others, and to fill the gaps in it, with the help of others.

I’ve started to explore how this information would be transferred, how it could be visualised, should it be visualised? Is there a physical dimension needed, something to carry, to hold. How are people notified if there is something in someone elses cloud that could be of use to them?


If information is to become a commodity, a currency surely this transfer of information should be controlled, made fair. A give-and-take system.

I’ve started to look up non-contact interaction technologies. Similar to what has just been released in the new Barclay’s Cards, I am yet to find out if the distance can be increased, up to that which bluetooth works now. Where both user can be within eye contact, lessening the feeling of sharing information with a stranger. This video by BERG is interesting to see how we accept the connection, even if we can see no proof of it, our acceptance of technology.

http://berglondon.com/blog/2009/09/15/nearness/

kj

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