Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What is Presence?

Over the past few months I have been involved in the development of a new Personal Business Communications service that will combine Instant Messaging/Presence, Audio Conferecing and WebConferencing in a highly secure, highly user-friendly environment.

One of the questions that arises is "What do we really mean by Presence?" MSN Messenger allows us to indicate our "presence status" via seven pre-determined descriptions. But within a WebArrow web conferencing session, the Meeting Control window indicates presence in the meeting through (i) our Login Name (or email address) and (ii) what services each participant is currently using (Desktop Viewing/Sharing, audio status (VoIP or, with one of their OEM clients, traditional TDM/POTS), File Sharing and Chat.

But in this newest service (that includes WebArrow for Web Conferencing) the Instant Messaging/Presence window allows us to indicate one of three states: Online/Away/Do Not Disturb -- but, should we want to provide additional information, there is also an optional In/Out Status indicator where the user can arbitrarily provide a general indication [In/Out/Around/@Lunch/@Loo/] or whatever brief descriptor we want to leave; for those who want to provide more information they can leave it in a full In/Out board to state where one can be reached, time of return and even a text Note.

So what is Presence? Well another perspective can be found in a discussion on Telapocalypse; Alec Saunders comments that "Presence, today, is an artificial construct for a very real world problem - how do I let people know whether I am available?"

Go, figure!

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