When we experience separation with the people close to our heart, distance is a privation. The postcard, despite its archaism stills one of the best subterfuge we can use to reduce the feeling of absence we encounter in such a situation.
Indeed, postcards have an astonishing ability to create an affective connexion between people through distance and time.
What is postcard today ?
“ A kind of nostalgia ”?
“ The pleasure to receive ” ?
“ Birthdays ” ?
“ The difficulty to find a stamp in a foreign country and the fact that we come back from travel with the postcard we planned to send “?
“ The received object we never now when to threw away ”?
“ the challenge to summarize holidays in a very small area witch end up all the time in small talks : I am well, weather is nice, kiss …”?
HICetNUNC explores the conditions for triggering emotion we experience when we receive a postcard from someone important for us and aims to infuse these qualities in the communications devices of the digital age.
Beyond voice, mobiles phones provide today an increasing ability to record samples of reality, from images, to contextual information as localisation or movement.
These data can be used in order to enrich our communications with a range of controlled and uncontrolled thin signals mixed together and develop the feeling of a collective body membership. A micro social network focussed on the intimate community, instigator of presence and re-insurance.
Today, individualism behaviours tend to be balanced by the needs of connexion contributing to the massive adoption of social networks in mobile communication. As the ability and needs for mobility growth more and more people are experiencing voluntary or sustained separation. But communication technologies do not fully satisfy the potential user needs for enchantment.
Geo-localisation is the fundament of HICetNUNC, as geo-localized mediated communication can – Through its temporal and spatial articulation – delivers a strong basic for the co-creation of a shared fiction. Thin signals and small talks are the second focus and especially the combination of both which may enrich daily communication between relatives. Historization and archive is the third focus as the tangible postcard is a potential support of the history of a relationship.
This design research project aims to develop a set of cross-platforms features evolving aesthetic and interactive dimensions and test the social pertinence of these applications beyond their basic communication capabilities.
The first questions covers the condition of symbolic and fetichization of an intangible feature or how an application can support the projection of an imaginary. Provide sense to a visualisation of me and the others within space and time.
This questions is related to the concept of geo-localisation, today often used for synchronisation between persons, navigation in “swarms”, in “flotilla” and how it could also provide a support for re-insurance and co-presence.
Today, communication still mostly organised in silos, based on the technologies from whom they are issued: Telephone (GSM, SMS), Internet (email, VOIP…). We can hide this technology. We can focus on the essence of the communication, develop a seamless interface.
An application using agnostically all the available channels to convey the information through the network may provide a strong feeling of reliability to the user and will be instigator of confidence.
Confidence is an essential value for a system dedicated to connection with people who are the most valuable for us.
Confidence will be instigated as well by the ability to control and guarantee the intimacy. Obviously, both concepts are not really present within the actually dominant social networks because their growth - as for most of the communication technologies – is based on the “network effect”, the ability of a network to develop its attractiveness through the growing number of people using it. It seems that network effect is fundamentally antagonist with the abilities to control communication and preserve intimacy. Is it possible to create a similar attractiveness and value through a limitation of the members of a network ?
Eventually these limitations will represent some opportunities for design exploration of interfaces and visualisation that may not be possible in an other way. For instance, it will allow to display all the network members within the same screen and show more information and allow more interactions at the same time. Also, it may authorise integration of metaphoric representations in connection with the tangible constrains of the real world.