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I think of a new world like telepresence as having various dimensions. The three dimensions are: (1) the mechanism - how is telepresence accomplished; (2) the application - what is achieved using telepresence; and, (3) the group structure - who is using telepresence. The first is based on technology and the other two are social. We engineers tend to concentrate on the mechanism. That is, what are we providing from a pure channel standpoint? And what should go from text to video to graphics, white boards to sketch on, and the control of shared programs and data.

The 2nd dimension is what are we going to do with telepresence? Are we simply communicating, are we doing interviews, or are we creating a “virtual hallway” to stroll to accomplish “management by walking around”? Are we attempting to design something, or solve a problem? Or, are we conducting a formal meeting run by Robert's Rules of Order? These questions are answered only when we have enough real telepresence users. Research on collaboration doesn't mean anything unless you've got enough instruments deployed in real world situations.

The critical social dimension is the structure of who's communicating, who's collaborating, who's being teleported, and how is the teleporting occurring? This begins with simple one-to-one interaction, goes through highly distributed groups and finally mob scenes with an unlimited number.

Two-site conferencing, including person-to-person and video conferencing, provided by AT&T’s Picturephone Meeting Service (PMS), in 1978, is the most common. PictureTel and others evolved this into an industry. When AT&T started, they began with a dozen different Picturephone sites. I was one of the first users when DEC was doing the Ethernet deal with Intel and Xerox. We needed to meet, but didn’t have the time to travel so we spent a couple of hours meeting via Picturephone and agreed to go ahead with the deal even though it was our first meeting together.