Alec Saunders posted an interesting item (manifesto) about Presence as a key enabler of next generation applications – both voice and web. I’d argue that some web applications – especially blogs – have exploded in part due to a simple piece of presence technology – RSS – that made it possible to pay attention to more conversations by alerting you when new posts occurred
What makes Alec’s article – and the discussion around it (here, here, here) so interesting is the examination of the axis that to interact to produce meaningful presence – that is “relationship, context, profile” and the types of applications that presence engenders – from mediating real-time interaction to monetizing connections through opt-in advertising or new applications and services.
What comes out of reading this discussion just what how difficult this it is to mediate synchronous communication for a reasonably engaged individual – there are simply too many variables – And how early these concepts are for the telecommunications and enterprise markets.
They are still incredibly valuable though – because even small steps in this direction can have a huge impact – especially if one focuses on a relatively few situations (like social interaction on a media web site) – and lets the users determine what they want.
If media is a increasingly about guiding a conversation then presence is the tool set that keeps it human – by respecting my interests, relationships and context.