The PhoneBoy Blog


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Conveying Presence Automatically

Martin Geddes brings up a good point in Is Anybody There about presence online: it’s damned hard to “augment” it in closed applications like Skype, AIM, MSN, etc.

What I personally need is for all of these applications to provide a more “flexible” presence and have the date and time be one of the components that determines my “presence.” Let me give an example.

Because I have an always-on Internet connection and I tend to leave my computers on all the time, I also tend to leave GAIM (which is logged into AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, Skype, and other things on as well. As a result of this, I frequently hear sounds of chat requests from my upstairs office, particularly on weekends. And while all of these programs have “auto away” functions, they only take into account how long I’ve been idle. I’d like to be able to specify a schedule that provides context to the “away” status.

For example, during the workday, I’m usually at home. It’s not uncommon for me to go downstairs and have lunch, go to the bathroom, or deal with some other emergency that cropped up at home. This makes it very likely that I will return shortly. An away status and message that reflects that would be cool. Between the hours of say, 7pm and 11pm on any given day, I am quite likely not going to be at my computer. My status and away message should reflect that. I’m up for two or three hours and then go to bed. Between bedtime (let’s say 2am for the sake of argument) and 9am, I am “asleep” and won’t be answering any IM pages. Status should reflect that. During the day on weekends, I am rarely, if at all, at my computer. Let people know that.

If I weren’t lazy, I could certainly manually set the status myself. What would be cool is if I could have that status automatically conveyed based on what I’m currently doing and what the “schedule” normally is. Program it once and forget it. Never again would I have to change my status because it would happen by schedule. If I happen to come in and use my computer “off schedule,” the program would be smart enough to adjust.

It would also be cool if this status could be conveyed in a consistent manner across the Instant Messaging networks I use.


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