However, some ideas that are clearly of relevance are ideas about how small features in simple interfaces allow us to create a sense of others. IBM researchers Tom Erickson and Wendy Kellogg have spent some time looking at small visual cues in interfaces that signal social presence; they call these simple visual representations “social translucence.” It is amazing how small gestures can make someone who is very far away feel like they are with you. And in this world of the webcast, it seems that view counts substitute for watching the crowd. View counts turned out to be really important to every DJ we talked to. A higher view count signifies a larger crowd, even if that crowd comprises a bunch of individuals sitting on their sofas or desk chairs all over the planet. Textual changes on a webpage that reflect the presence of others.
This sounds stupid until you have experienced it. I know how a line of text on a screen that reads “1 view” can feel like a touch on the shoulder. The first time I saw a “view” on a picture that I had posted on Flickr, I felt like someone had reached through the computer screen and touched me. In a flash, I went from comfort zone to twilight zone-someone out there on the Internet was looking at the picture I uploaded 30 seconds ago. And in that moment I thought: I don’t know who that someone is or why they are looking at my picture. I felt oddly exposed, although clearly that ghostly touch was from someone far away.
Humans are strongly attuned to registering the slightest of informational cues. We will ascribe meaning to the slightest of signs. And into those cues, the most abstract of indicators, we are perfectly capable of reading complex social gestures. It is perhaps this tendency that ensures the continuing financial success of horoscopes, crystal-ball gazing, and the reading of tea leaves.
In this regard, DJs closely monitor the audience cams for the movement of a head in time with the beat, for a look of close attention, and for the appearance of a familiar face. Chat logs are monitored for comments, for requests, and for conflict. Chat lets people know what is being played. And all this while slipping from one track to the next.