Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 1:17AM
Cisco is running a new advert for their TelePresence technology showing large scale multi-screens in major urban centers communicating in realtime with identical setups in other major urban centers. Prior to this, I have only seen demonstrations of the technology within an indoor environment: business meetings obviously, but also school classrooms (two elementary age groups on either side of the globe playing a game of blink). But the simple act of moving the technology outside I think is significant. It's a very direct expression of, and a marked step toward, digital ambience. I think there is much more to this than the novelty of seeing people in Paris, let's say, staring back at you as you're standing in New York. Extending Cisco's vision not too very far will remove the looking-glass aspect of the endeavor into something, potentially, not random but expected. Imagine the effect upon street culture, upon performance (music, theatre, some of which is already being seen in things like the Metropolitan Opera's Live HD broadcasts), upon conversation. The future of the billboard may thus not be something akin to Blade Runner or Minority Report (ever more gargantuan displays wrestling our attention with ever more personalized effect) but something closer to an exchange, with all the attendant opportunities for monetization as well as cultural interplay: the "open sourcing" of everyday life, around the city, around the country, around the world.