Social Undistancing

Sound & Color

Spatial Audio is surround sound for synchronous digital gatherings, like conferences, workshops, and classes.   People and things in these online spaces have proximity and distance from one another, as if they were in a physical space.    

The closer you get to someone or something the more you see and hear.  Like in a crowded restaurant, you must walk-to or sit-with someone to have a conversation. Like in a concert hall, the closer you are to the stage - the louder the music.  

Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction.

Proximity isn’t a thing in Zoom.  There is no natural sense of near, far, or personal space as all participants are in each other’s space - all at once.  Spatial Audio shifts this dynamic by establishing a sense of space, movement, location, and exploration for online crowds.

Digital Proxemics is the study of humans in digital spaces and the effects of population density on their behavior, communication, and social learning.   

I’m an educator, and this is my re-definition.  

We gather as a community of practice or a community of inquiry; and we roam about the room as humans do.  We naturally network.  Breakout rooms are organic as they do not require a host to facilitate.  Huddles are organic as people see others they know, and walk to them.  The host may take the stage at any time and address the full room.  This enables a sense of physical movement and presence.  

The multi-modal experience also allows us to create spaces with a sense of depth.  Learners might hear the wind blowing or music in the distance, drawing them to explore a certain direction.   Likewise, they might find visual artifacts in these spaces - videos, documents, graphics, or links to other locations.  In many ways it is a video game styled mingling.    

These spaces lack the focus of Zoom and can be distracting.  For virtual conferences, workshops, or poster-sessions with large groups - they can be effective.  For smaller meetings and focused discussions, something like Zoom is a better fit.    

There are many Spatial-Audio platforms emerging, these are the ones I like. 

- Topia is game-like and fun. 

- Spacial.Chat is best for breakout rooms.  

- Voiceroom is minimalist.