Carnegie Mellon University
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The Familiar Stranger: Anxiety, Comfort, and Play in Public Places

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journal contribution
posted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by Eric Paulos, Elizabeth Goodman

As humans we live and interact across a wildly diverse set of physical spaces. We each formulate our own personal meaning of place using a myriad of observable cues such as public-private, large-small, daytime-nighttime, loud-quiet, and crowded-empty. Not surprisingly, it is the people with which we share such spaces that dominate our perception of place. Sometimes these people are friends, family and colleagues. More often, and particularly in public urban spaces we inhabit, the individuals who affect us are ones that we repeatedly observe and yet do not directly interact with - our Familiar Strangers. This paper explores our often ignored yet real relationships with Familiar Strangers. We describe several experiments and studies that led to designs for both a personal, body-worn, wireless device and a mobile phone based application that extend the Familiar Stranger relationship while respecting the delicate, yet important, constraints of our feelings and affinities with strangers in pubic places.


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Copyright © 2004 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept., ACM, Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or © ACM, 2004. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems {1-58113-702-8 (2004)}



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