Cities are machines that produce interactions among strangers, interactions that can be as lyrical and profound as they are singular and momentary. Location-based technology promises to add new chances for these fleeting connections, and new layers to the social experience of public space. As we create systems that augment our capacity to connect with strangers (and friends), we have to solve all the same problems that people need to solve when they spontaneously interact on the street, including social perception, trust, privacy, and the delicate dance of entering and exiting an interaction. This talk explores why connections between strangers are so meaningful, revealing some of the unwritten rules and conventions that make face-to-face stranger interactions run smoothly, and considering how these rules play out in the public spaces we frequent online and the ad hoc public spaces created by our connected, location-aware devices.
Kio Stark writes and consults on technology and human relationships, with a focus on stranger interactions, mediated intimacy, and technological authenticity. She teaches at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and makes interactive advertising for agencies including Ogilvy and Deutsch. Her first novel, Follow Me Down, will be published in June.
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