Some interesting little bits of technology in the latest Humane Ingenuity newsletter which Dan Cohen links to his idea of “ambient humanity”: Online Town and Gather.

Instead of a grid of video images like on Zoom, Online Town combines the Zoom line of video thumbnails with a cute lo-res 2-D video game environment that looks like it was plucked straight out of 1988. As you move through a map of a town or a campus or an office park, and you encounter other bitmapped avatars of people, you gradually come in and out of audio reach as you would in real life. Move close to someone and you can talk at full volume to them; move away and their voice fades away.

Siempre’s Gather is for larger groups, and is also an interesting combination of a very spatially aware, realistic audio environment married to an almost comical avatar map. I’ve created a Humane Ingenuity private park in Gather; maybe we can have a meet up there? It’s currently rather lonely.

Pair with the ongoing #MakeItDigital series appearing in the Civic Signals newsletter and on their Twitter feed, looking for “online analogies to our favorite urban features”.