By Andrew Monk
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Extra info for Common Ground in Electronically Mediated Communication (Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services)
It turns out that both full gaze awareness and mutual gaze are hard to achieve with conventional arrangements for video-mediated communication. Consider the common arrangement of a window showing the head and shoulders of the remote participant via a webcam. , above the video image of the remote person). While it may be possible to see whether someone is looking left or right or up or down (Monk and Gale term this partial gaze awareness), there is no possibility for full gaze awareness because none of the objects the remote person may be looking at are visible.
Two lawyers communicating about a case may choose the medium of typed letters because it affords the constraints of revisability and reviewability. Here, the cost of an inappropriate joint project being construed by either party is considerable and so the cost of losing all the other constraints is justified. Also, they already have extensive common ground as they are both lawyers who have dealt with this kind of case before. They may choose to meet their clients face-to-face. This is because they need all the constraints they can muster to create some common ground.
If I look you in the eye using the video configuration described above, it will appear that I am looking somewhere on your chest. I can give an illusion of looking you in the eye by looking at the camera but then I cannot monitor the video image to tell if you were simultaneously looking at me. The problem of achieving mutual gaze can be circumvented using a “video tunnel” (Buxton & Moran, 1990) in which half-silvered mirrors are used to give a camera position which is effectively behind the eyes of the video image of the remote person (see Figure 3).