Monday, July 31, 2006

A thought for early morning:
The way we we engage our senses most comfortably strongly influences in non-obvious ways the process of how we use and develop communications media.

Phones for instance, work fairly effectively because the way we hear can cope comfortably with that style of media communication. Videophones, with people's heads displayed to one another, do not work comfortably. They require that a person stay still with their eyes focused on a single point if they want their heads displayed, not a particularly comfortable position. Trying to see the other person on a videophone similarly limits a person's freedom of movement in a way that listening to a person on an audio phone doesn't. Until such time as it's as easy to move about while using a video phone as it is with a plain audio phone, then they won't catch on. I don't know how that'd work, though. Holographic technology of some kind?

Then there's television. The style of it seems dumbed-down and simple, and people bemoan this. But a single point of reference in which the visual perception gets engaged can be a tiring experience. More natural is a situation in which people's visual attention is diffuse. A dumbed-down, easily digested form of visual stimulus is the form of media most suited to a diffuse mode of seeing: people's attention can fade in and out and what few details they do miss can easily be filled in owing to the simplistic nature of the overall content.

I also suspect that there's a natural tendency for people to want to give feedback on sensory input. Where this isn't possible you get situations where the input becomes a background thing more usually than a foreground thing, like radio. This may also be why television tends to resort to sensationalism and vivid visual imagery to attract attention: it needs to compensate for the disinterest created by the lack of ability to give feedback on the sensory input provided.

Does this urge for engagement with sensory stimulation rather than passively receiving it exist? Is it a natural human urge? I honestly have no idea. I suspect that something like it exists, and understanding it would allow deployment of new, much more effective media devices the likes of which we have not yet seen.

No comments: