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Being There Together The Future of Social Interaction in Shared

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					Being There Together: The Future of
 Social Interaction in Shared Virtual
            Environments
           Ralph Schroeder
        Oxford Internet Institute
                 Overview

•   Definition of VEs and Two End-states
•   Being There Together: Three Conclusions
•   Connected Presence Cube
•   Different Media For Being there Together
•   Some Findings about SVEs
•   Other New Media and being there together
•   Lessons Learned
Shared Virtual Environments and
        two End-states
• Definition of VE technology as presence,
  plus interacting, and copresence (Sensory
  experience of being in a place other than
  the one you are physically in, and being
  able to interact with it, and being there with
  others)
• Two End-States (video vs. computer-
  generated, or blue-c vs. Cave)
• Different capabilities (affordances)
     ‘Being There Together’: Three
             Conclusions
• The range of issues applies to all media
  for being there together
• Many preconceptions about ‘being there
  together’ are misleading
• The end-states of the technology are
  known, and it is useful for technology
  development and social science to work
  backwards from the end-states
The Connected Presence Cube

                                       Connected
                                       Presence,
                                       z
        0,1,0
                                            1,1,1



    Presence, y




                                    1,0,0
          0, 0, 0   Copresence, x
Different Media for Being There Together

                                                                                               Connected
                                                                                               Presence z




                                                                                   Networked
                                                                                   Caves

                       Simulator                                Desktop- based
   Presence y                                                   shared VE (ie.
                                                                Activeworlds)
                                          Online                                     MUDs, online
                       Imax               computer                                   chat
                                          game
                                                          Videoconference
                                                                                 Instant
                                                                                 Messaging

                          InteractiveTV
                                                                   Mobileph
                                                                   one           Telephone


   Physical face-to-
   face relations                                Copresence x
  Blue-C: the video captured
     immersive end-state




Courtesy of Markus Gross, The blue-c project, ETH Zürich
                        Blue-C




Courtesy of Markus Gross, The blue-c project, ETH Zürich
CAVE-like Systems: the computer
     generated end-state




 Chalmers’ Tan VR-CUBE   UCL’s Trimension ReaCTor
London – Gothenburg ‘Caves’
Doing the Rubik’s cube
Task: The Rubik puzzle
FtF
                   Other Tasks




With Anthony Steed and Dave Roberts
Activeworlds
Onlive Traveler
Some Findings about small groups
     in immersive systems
•   As good as being there
•   Presence – high, low – but also interaction
•   Copresence – high, low, and modality
•   Technology determines ‘leadership’
•   Following and not following conventions
    (through avatars, leaning, pointing)
    Some Findings about large groups
    in desktop non-immersive systems

•   Non-verbal communication
•   Control and flexibility (Sims)
•   Sociability around objects (There)
•   Avatar appearance (consistency)
•   Reality checks and overshadowing
•   Large groups and spaces: ‘Inhabitability’, stake,
    transferability, on- and offline relationships
 Other New Media and being there
            together
• Relax (visual) sense and place requirement – but people
  speak of presence and sharing space
• Nardi et al on IM at work: outeraction as ‘reaching out’,
  awareness moments, stepping in and out
• Licoppe on mobiles and SMS: ‘copresent
  interactions…into a seamless web’, ‘connected
  management of relationships’
• Social Networking Sites: Image, IM, and rich self-
  presentation
• Other examples of Cyworlds, Japanese mobiles,
  webcamera use, Ling on mobiles…
   Linking SVEs and Other New
              Media

• Switching focus and multiple modes
• Mediated and face-to-face relations –
  more, richer, more dense?
• Being there together – historically, in
  media theory, and today
• Adding to and complementing multimodal
  connectedness
                    Video-Conferencing      blue-C                     Immersive VEs
  Intensive         dyad                                               conferencing
  engagement                                                           dyad




  Extensive             Webcams and                  Desktop VEs for
  engagement            video-based                  socializing and
                        social networking            gaming
                                                                                       Virtual-
                                                                                       mediated
                                                                                       communicati
                                                                                       on
Video-mediated
communication




Figure 2. Level of engagement in four technologies for ‘Being there Together’
                         Virtual Environment      Videoconferencing       Online Spaces for         Social Networking and
                                                                          Gaming and Socializing    Awareness Tools




Appearance               Face with limited        Head and torso          Avatar                    Iconic representation,
                         expressiveness,                                                            photo
                         body
Environment              Room and larger spaces   Small space within      World                     Spaces consisting of
                                                  room                                              pages and windows
Realism                  High                     High                    Low                       Low
Object and environment   High                     Very limited            High (but restricted by   High (but restricted)
interaction                                                               field of view)
Facial Expressiveness    Low                      High                    Low                       Low
Group Size               Small                    Small                   Large                     Large
Communication and        Synchronous, brief       Synchronous, brief      Synchronous, extensive    Synchronous and
Interaction                                                               sessions                  asynchronous,
                                                                                                    constant
Communication            Voice                    Voice                   Text, sometimes voice     Text, sometimes voice
modality
Key                      Expense, poor facial     Expense, poor audio     Poor facial               Lack of social cues
disadvantage             expressiveness           and bodily cues         expressiveness
Key advantage            Object interaction       Facial expressiveness   Engaging setting for      Awareness,
                                                                          interaction               availability, and self-
                                                                                                    presentation can be
                                                                                                    managed


                   Figure 1. Comparison of four technologies for ‘Being There Together’
    Comparisons of Being There
            Together
• Less Media Richness does not mean poorer
  interpersonal relations or task performance
• Facial expressions and turn-taking versus
  object-focused tasks
• Small group focus of attention versus large
  groups and norms, awareness and availability,
  self-representation, consistency
• Copresence affected by these factors, but also
  comes in ‘realist’ versus computer-generated
  forms
            Lessons Learned
• Link social psychology, CMC and larger patterns
  of media uses
• Link large groups and small, immersive and non-
  immersive
• Different modes of connectedness and control…
• The advantages and disadvantages of each
  end-state
• What we can learn for technology development,
  and for social science of media
          Design Implications
• What kind of avatar, environment, and
  interaction with it?
• What is the best modality (text, voice,
  haptic, other) and level and type of realism
• Context matters, but also go beyond it…
• Are the key issues in design, or in what
  kind of connected presence in society we
  want? (technological determinism…)
    The Varieties of ‘Being There
             Together’
• Videoconferencing is proliferating in different
  forms, has practical constraints, and is merging
  with other technologies
• Online spaces support spatial interaction, the
  development of social norms, and content that
  engages users
• Social networking relates to ‘always on’
  togetherness, and expresses identity and social
  ‘availability’ and ‘awareness’ (as with IM, mobile
  phones and social spaces)
  The Multiple Modalities of Online
          Connectedness
• Denser, more frequent, ‘richer’, more
  multiple mediated relationships
• Technical problems will be overcome, so
  which social ones remain? (limited
  attention space, limits of interpersonal
  networks, ‘choice’ of modality and its
  affordances)
• Technological endpoints and social limits
  are known – Improve life online, life offline
                  Conclusions
• Technological problems are solvable
• Users will adapt to modality and self-
  representation and suitability to conditions
• Convergence of modalities will take place
• Implications
   –   Linking copresence with engagement
   –   The affordances of copresence systems
   –   Maintaining connectedness and mutual awareness
   –   Continuity of high-end and low-end, video and
       computer-generated, small and large groups

				
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