Being There Together and the Future of Connected Presence
Type of work: Article (academic)
Research on virtual environments has provided insights into the experience of presence (or being there) and copresence (being there together). Several dimensions of this experience, including the realism of the environment and of the avatar embodiment, have been investigated. At the same time, research on a number of new media has begun to use concepts that are similar to copresence—such as mutual awareness, connected presence, and engagement. Since digital environments can be reconfigured and combined easily, and since an increasing number of such environments are used to connect people in their everyday lives, it is useful to think about the various modalities of connected presence as a continuum—with shared virtual environments in which people are fully immersed as an end-state. This paper proposes a model for the different modalities of connected presence whereby research on shared virtual environments can be modeled as approaching this end-state. It is argued that this model can improve our understanding both of the uses of shared virtual environments and of their future development among a variety of media for “being there together.” This paves the way for integrating research on shared virtual environments with research on other new media.