I do enjoy your open wandering (which does not always mean lost) thinking in your blog. I wish more people did this.
It’s your idea that matters, but I might unpack the word “absence” – as that implies something is missing. For the glass of water, nothing is missing, it is the space filled with invisible gas, it absolutely has presence. But we do not detect it with our minds (our bodies do, aka respiration), so it’s more a matter of what we can detect. And we do not really sense when air is present (we certainly do when it is not), so it’s more a matter of what we can use to detect air. We never see it. We accept by an understanding of chemistry and physics that it’s there.
You could also consider that there are sounds present around us that we do not hear (beyond the sensory range of our ears), and wavelengths of light we do not see with our eyes. There is much presence outside our sensory range.
The use of white space in design is more properly known as negative space (think of the optical illusion of the image of a vase that changes to two faces). The advertisement I always think of was for the Volkswagen Beetle in the 19069s- it was a tiny image on a huge sea of white. Some frame it as a matter of balance, or giving a place for the eyes to rest. It could be in music too where there is a pause (also called a rest). Is that absence? In design I don’t think of it as something missing.
But it is a useful metaphor to think about ways we can act to not always be the dominant figure.
Yet I do not see someone who considerately gives others room to talk or think as an absence, if it is deliberate. But then it is an act, not something missing. It’s like when you start to write a comment or an angry email or a tweet, and you catch yourself, and just delete it, realizing it is better to say nothing.
You seem to know my stories, but here is one of my favorites about social media absence, back around 2009 or so. I went out of the country with someone who requested to not be public about the trip. Plus it was a place without much connectivity. Unplugged.
What I did not count on was that my friends in Phoenix were worried because I went silent on twitter, my blog, flickr. They were ready to drive up to my house (2 hours away) thinking I might have fallen unconscious or worse. They did not but, but it struck me that we can forget by not saying anything, we can be communicating something.
I like the concept of thinking about the ways we communicate maybe silently, or in unseen ways, but I don’t like the word absent (maybe I don;t like negative words). And people can be absent, or forgetful, or neglectful. That seems quite different from being deliberate about choosing not to be vocal.
But I agree the things we count as participation do not take in count the possibility and potential of ______ (other word for absence).
Curious to see all your oer17 pieces come together… all the way in April to wait?