Presence in Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) as extelligence: virtuality and collectivity (1998) by Mike Holderness. Presence may be easier than we think: "The author modestly proposes that CVEs are best seen as 'channels of communication' between participants in Lévy's 'collective intelligence' or Stewart and Cohen's 'extelligence'; and therefore that an effective design principle for CVEs is not fidelity, but the avoidance of noise."

This pulls together Deleuze's concept of the virtual (a matrix of possible/real, virtual/actual is given), and Lévy's 'collective intelligence'... or what Stewart and Cohen call extelligence: "Extelligence is all of the 'cultural capital' that is available to us in the form of tribal legends, folklore, nursery tales, books, videotapes, CD-ROMs, and so on" (I would argue it's also our behaviour encoded into dynamical processes, placements, structural assumptions etc: culture is unfolded architecture). (Incidentally, Stewart and Cohen also came up with complicity - "two or more complex systems interact in a kind of mutual feedback that changes them both, leading to behaviour that is not present in either system on its own" - which sounds to me like re-entrant behaviour in the brain, which is something different from the more basic cybernetic feedback loops.)

More: "Lots of people have discussed this kind of interaction in terms of Karl Popper's 'Third World', Teilhard de Chardin's 'noösphere', or Medawar's 'extrasomatic evolution'. Our notion of 'extelligence' differs from these, we think, and from the general word 'culture', because we look at the external influence from the point of view of each complicit individual."

In summary, "Your extelligence, then, includes all the elements of what it is like to be you which do not reside in that unlikely grey goo in your skull. From now on, this (whether through your acceptance or rejection of it) will form a part of your extelligence; and should you choose to respond, a part of the author's extelligence will thenceforth reside in you."

Back to the shared environments... "It is surely the point of a CVE, in the terms discussed here, to serve as a channel of communication between the parts of the participants' extelligences."

And then, beautifully, and correctly: "The goal of realism in CVEs is arguably a category error" which is a major step and something we now take for granted, but don't really think of why. It continues, and presents the current view of presence:

"The alternative goal of reducing noise allows the participants to maximise for themselves the arrival of events of communication. At times, to be specific, the sparsest of channels may be preferable to the richest - allowing the participants, perhaps, collectively to 'close their eyes to think together'."