Who Benefits Most from Presence – The Highly Scheduled or Chaos Lovers?

April 5, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Attention Management, interruption science, presence | Leave a comment

Ken Camp published an interesting thought piece on “The Personality of Presence” that, among other topics, raises the question “What type of person (interrupt style) benefits most from presence?”.  That’s a good and useful question, but I found it interesting that he came to the opposite conclusion I would:

To embrace presence, you must embrace the chaos that is interruption management. If you are not immersed in the flow for a myriad of diverse inputs (interruptions), if your day is based on planning aforethought and structure, presence is not likely a good thing. It removes personal control and places it in the hands of the interrupt.
For those of us who live by interruption and rarely adhere to a strict schedule, the idea of presences adds value, whereas for the structured world, presence is an anathema to order.


So he says interrupt-based workers would like presence more.  My first instinct was the opposite. 

I think people who are more scheduled and systematic would benefit more from presence because they wouldn’t want interruptions, would like an attention shield inserted into communication channels that tells message senders when they are busy, and they generally embrace rules and order.  And the opposite type of people, those who embrace chaos and like to feel part of the flow or like a spider sensing movement anywhere in its web are more able to handle being interrupted and multi-tasking.

His view is not wrong – I think it shows a difference in how presence is viewed.  A glance at my Enterprise Attention Management conceptual architecture shows we’re talking about different pieces.  From a UC point of view presence is about intelligent routing (“Routing and channel switching” in the Attention Response Engine on the conceptual architecture diagram).  From a desktop point of view presence is about attention shielding (“Rules and Scoring”). 

The good news for presence is that I think the answer to this question is that both types of people can benefit.  People that love being part of the flow of information (or riding the surf of it depending on how much you get) will like the location abilities of presence (time, place, and device on the conceptual architecture) to make sure they don’t miss a minute.  People that are most effective when focusing on one task at a time and want to push synchronous attempts to contact them back to asynchronous methods when they can be handled at leisure will like the abilities of presence to block messages, push them to async mechanisms, or politely make others aware they are busy.  Everyone wins!


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