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Social Icebreakers Everywhere: A Day In The Life

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)


Developing systems to spark face-to-face interactions between strangers is a recurring challenge that may benefit from drawing together inspiration from many different creative fields. This paper presents a design fiction that makes accessible over 50 diverse examples of objects and environments that might help foster new social encounters. Unlike most design fiction, this narrative is not about the future, but about an alternative present. The designs discussed are all real objects - either functional prototypes or interactive exhibits. The fiction is that these already existing artefacts are a commonplace, and not particularly remarkable part of the everyday. Thus the strange is made familiar by unusual designs being presented as a universal normality. Each individual element is "real" in that it has not been invented for the purpose of this review, however the overarching story uses a fictional frame to place all this work in the same world. We hope immersion in this narrative can enrich perspectives and debates around designing to support social interaction.


Mitchell, Robb; Encinas, Enrique; Kirman, Ben (2020): Social Icebreakers Everywhere: A Day In The Life. Proceedings of 18th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2020_ep09. European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET). PISSN: 2510-2591. Exploratory Papers. Siegen, Germany. 13 - 17 June 2020