Home > Social Web > Ambient Intimacy – insight into the real-time Social Web

Ambient Intimacy – insight into the real-time Social Web


Always like to come across a concept that serves as a “hook” around which to describe a shared concept. In the Social Web space, Social Object (coined by Jyri Engestrom) is such a concept (see also here).

Another concept that’s been around for a while, but which I just recently stumbed across, is that ambient intimacy, coined by Leisa Reichelt back in 2007. Here’s how Leisa describes the notion of ambient intimacy:

Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible. Flickr lets me see what friends are eating for lunch, how they’ve redecorated their bedroom, their latest haircut. Twitter tells me when they’re hungry, what technology is currently frustrating them, who they’re having drinks with tonight.

Who cares? Who wants this level of detail? Isn’t this all just annoying noise? There are certainly many people who think this, but they tend to be not so noisy themselves. It seems to me that there are lots of people for who being social is very much a ‘real life’ activity and technology is about getting stuff done.

There are a lot of us, though, who find great value in this ongoing noise. It helps us get to know people who would otherwise be just acquaintances. It makes us feel closer to people we care for but in whose lives we’re not able to participate as closely as we’d like.

Knowing these details creates intimacy. (It also saves a lot of time when you finally do get to catchup with these people in real life!) It’s not so much about meaning, it’s just about being in touch.

Since Reichelt’s original post, she’s continued to elaborate on the topic. See Ambient Exposure, and Ambient Intimacy for the Next Generation.

glenn

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