Question: When do you prefer video for communicating?

A question towards you.

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Have you ever heard of the so-called ‘Bandwidth hypothesis’ in computer-mediated communications? It’s the hypothesis that for cognitive tasks, the more similar a medium is to face-to-face communication (the more bandwidth it has), the better the communication should be. Scientist have been trying to prove this for decades but they never succeeded.

Of course there are a lot of emotional aspects that play a big role. These aspects make face-to-face interaction a much richer experience than other (computer-mediated) interactions. But somehow they don’t seem to have any influence when it comes to the communication of cognitive tasks ((Whittaker S (2002). ‘Theories and methods in mediated communication)).

What does make a difference is speech. Research has shown that this makes the communication of cognitive tasks twice as effective. ((Chapanis A, Ochsman R & Parrish R (1972). ‘Studies in interactive communication)) Knowing this, the bubblecomment post from last week (which was about leaving video comments), left me with some questions. I didn’t leave a video comment. Why? I don’t really know. I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. But when do I prefer video, or a video chat to be more specific, as a medium for communication? When do I want or need my communication with someone else to be this rich. The only time I seriously engaged in a video chat, was with a friend who was living in Australia at the time and which I hadn’t seen for months. But that’s just me. So here is my question for you:

When do you prefer video as a medium for communication? When not? And most of all, why?

Dennis Koks

Dennis Koks (1987, The Netherlands) is a designer | conceptual thinker for interactive media and co-founder of Transparent Spaces. Dennis is fascinated about the social impact of interactive design and how it can improve our daily lives.

3 comments on this article

  1. Harry on

    I hardly ever do video chat lately. I used to have hours and hours of video chats weekly with a girl 2 years ago, and when i say hours i mean more than 9 consecutive hours in a row. What changed? she became my girlfriend! After that point on, i rarely video chat anymore.
    To answer your question, i prefer video as a medium where an image is not enough. An emotion, an action, an interaction. Why? To make things clear, and show them exactly how they are.

  2. In the pre-video stage of the Internet I had a lot of misunderstandings with people. It’s so difficult to bring emotions across with just words, when in ‘real life’ we use intonation, face expressions, movement and even physical contact.

    For me video is still a strange medium, but not when I communicate with people I know. In the bubblecomment experiment the stage suddenly changed from a private moment to a public moment. That is scary. But on the other hand, it’s the perfect way to show others who you are and how you feel. And isn’t that exactly what we all long for? Bringing down the barriers the Internet created and become personal again.

  3. timyeo on

    We’ve been working on a solution targetted at the elderly that revolves around video chat. We’re imagining a scenario where grandparents want to communicate with their grandkids in a way that’s richer than voice calls.

    The desire to feel closer and bond with family living far away is definitely there.

    Unfortunately, the barriers to entry imposed by a personal computer has turned lots of elderly folks away.

    I’ll be sure to share more once the solution takes off.