- Could a physical space ever allow every person to be with the people most important to them if those people didn't also want to be with each other?
- How might our physical spaces limit our collective capacity for fulfilling long-term relationships with each other?
This was the question that started Siempre.
And it's a question that we haven't fully answered yet.
Siempre Video was our first attempt at a solution.
Instead of a physical room for all the people that we wanted to stay close to, what if we used parallel, bi-directional video streams with each of those people?
If those people got to their desk and wanted to be online, they'd just turn the system on and automatically see the feed for any of their other friends who were online.
No coordination or fully-connected social graph required.
Just turn it on and you'll see each other. Tap on the screen for a given friend and you can start talking to them.
No ringing. No guessing whether they're around. You just start talking.
Or you can leave it on silent and keep it nearby while you study or work.
Your friends will see that you're busy and if they still want to talk to you as easily as they would in real life, they can quickly send you a short video message for you to play on your terms and without distracting notifications or popups.
Our team has been daily users of this setup for over six months. And while we continue to use it with our own families consistently, it almost universally doesn't work for any of our friends beyond a few brief (and beautiful) shared weeks online with us.
For some, this kind of presence is too subtle or slow. For others, being on video is invasive or takes too much attention. Some don't have the right people to use it with and others don't have the space, attention or time that a system like this might take to learn and use properly.
But the idea remains. As does the original question.
And while this may not be right for many of the people we most wish it was right for, we don't know who else this could be perfect for.
But every day that it works for someone is a perfect one in our book.