Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Presence, it's pretty binary

Mathieu Saccharin of Bouyges Telecom made a great point today I felt I should share with you.

Presence is either ON or OFF. Anything else, eg: Busy, Out to Lunch, Scratching my Rear, etc, is just nonsense. I only want to know if the person I am going to send an instant message to is ON-line or OFF-line, ie are they likely to respond.

This has some interesting ramifications for the mobile world.

  • Are we always online because our phone is always on? I'm not
  • If not, how do we signify whether we're on or off line?


Mathieu Saccharin said...

Hi Adam, I am really touched you mentioned some of my speech at Global Messaging conference in Monaco.
However I would like to correct your quote. I don't even think presence relates to On and Off. IM (as a synchronous communication channel) does, but certainly not Presence.
In fact after a couple of years deploying extensively in Europe, messengers have become more and more intrusive, leading IM providers to feature their products with ON and Offline information management capacity. Thus I can connect to Yahoo or WL messengers and still appear offline. Even this information is not reliable.
Moreover we have to realise most of the introduction messages on an IM session start by "Are you available?" when the information is supposedly displayed. This led me to wonder which information was determinant in a buddy list, which one was effectively triggering communication.
The answer is probably social presence : the one which shouts "Look! I am existing too" (rather than the one that says "Sorry I am currently having lunch, try again later"). Social presence is a permanent window open on one's life which a user displays to its closest friends. It is fed with "daily life subtitles".
This very presence is the same you can see in other communities such as MySpace or Facebook, where indeed no "connectivity" information is shared, and eventually all the communication pattern relies on social presence.
The even more interesting part is that social presence is made of... user generated content (my profile, my pictures, my videos, my friends, my posts/mood of the day, etc.)both in member communities and in Messenger buddylists. In fact, WL and yahoo users do upload their own generated content and the updates are shared among a group of friends (mostly a limited group... the one which REALLY counts for the user).
To conclude rapidly, I would say two things :
1- there are two types of presence : one is related to connectivity and communication optimization. This is valuable among corporate users.
2- For the consumer segment presence is social and relies on user generated content.
From that point you can imagine most mobile operators strategies toward UGC, IM and Presence should align and should all orientate the same direction soon...

I'll be speaking about this same topic in London on November7&8 and 27&28. I'd be happy to discuss with you if you can attend either of them.

Best regards, Mathieu

Adam said...


Thanks for the comment, sorry for misquoting you. Looking back, I think your speech ignited a thought process and I must have adjust the facts to match the conclusion ;)

In a rather simplistic way I was expressing the opinion that the only presence state that is really of interest is On and available for communication.

As you point out, this is very much a corporate communication perspective rather than social one.