Understanding New Media – Space & Time

Veltman, Kim H. Understanding New Media: Augmented Knowledge & Culture. University of Calgary Press, 2006.

As I’ve discussed in the past, one of the greatest potential benefits of the online video conversation (OVC) in the asynchronous online classroom (AOC) or anyplace is in regard to space and time; there need be no spatial or temporal concerns in getting to a meeting at a specific a location or time. Rather, one can access a given OVC environment at any time and from the convenience of his or her own home, workplace, or other location.

Veltman cites William Mitchell’s outlining of the four fundamental relations of space and time (from E-topia) which correspond roughly to four major periods of history:

  1. Pre-literate man was limited to local space and synchronous time: communication was only possible with those with whom one was in direct contact, with minor exceptions of those who used smoke signals.
  2. Once literacy entered the scene and it was possible to leave messages, then local asynchronous communication was possible.
  3. The advent of tele-communications made remote synchronous communication possible through telephones.
  4. The advent of voice-mail, computers and e-mail made possible remote asynchronous communication. (30).

Mitchell claims that each of these situations became successively less expensive and less personal. While they may become less personal, they are not, as Veltman notes, necessarily less expensive. Synchronous meetings in local space and time in the current age is likely the most expensive form of communication. For example, such a meeting might require one or more people to travel, a meeting space needs to be secured, there is also the consideration of lost productivity during such ravel time. Even if all individuals are on location, such as in a workplace situation, there are various financial factors that are often considered, such as the cost of a meeting room, the average salary of all attendees, the loss of production when attendees (particularly those who might not need to be there) are in such a meeting, and these are all figured down to the cost per 60-minute session.

This situation is one in which the online video conversation (OVC) could potentially be very beneficial. For example, the possibility that a meeting attendee might not need to be there may only be for that moment. In other words, one of ten meeting attendees could be someone on a project that does not actually need to get involved until later in the project timeline, a point at which currently-discussed decision might change. In this way, a team could use the OVC to record perspective, updates, statuses, etc. about the project so others could view and respond from their own desks. Given this situation, there is no wasted time or space. Rather, each person gets involved at just the right moment for his or her role in the project.

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