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Friendly but not Friends: Designing for Spaces Between Friendship and Unfamiliarity / Airi Lampinen & al


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Paper presentation at Communities & Technologies 2017 conference.

Abstract below. Full paper available at the ACM Digital Library ( Co-authored by Airi Lampinen, Donald McMillan, Barry Brown, Zarah Faraj, Deha Nemutlu Cambazoglu, & Christian Virtala.

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"While urban life requires us to maintain a healthy social distance and anonymity from others, a recurring design goal has been to push against this anonymity and assist in the formation of communities. In contrast, our aim in this paper is to design for keeping others at a comfortable distance, without seeming rude or uncongenial. Building on findings from 20 interviews and two design workshops, we present three design explorations that illustrate opportunities to support a sense of friendly connection in local, communal spaces, without promoting the formation of friendship or other long-term engagements, or requiring the effort and commitment they would necessarily demand."

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Friendly but not Friends: Designing for Spaces Between Friendship and Unfamiliarity / Airi Lampinen & al

  1. 1. F R I E N D LY B U T N O T F R I E N D S D E S I G N I N G F O R S PA C E S B E T W E E N F R I E N D S H I P A N D U N FA M I L I A R I T Y Airi Lampinen Donald McMillan, Barry Brown, Zarah Faraj, Deha Nemutlu Cambazoglu & Christian Virtala
  2. 2. • Simmel’s essay from 1903, 
 “The Metropolis and Mental Life” • Urban life requires us to maintain
 social distance and anonymity • Urban technologies are often instead designed to assist in the formation 
 and maintenance of communities of differing sorts S O C I A L D I S TA N C E
  3. 3. • Establishing and maintaining a balance between ‘keeping one’s distance’ and ‘being there when needed’ is a skilful accomplishment (Crow et al, 2002) • It is worth paying attention to how people, at times, purposefully avoid neighborly interactions, and how we might design for these intentions S TA R T I N G P O I N T S
  4. 4. • How might we design systems that 
 can help us keep those around us 
 at a comfortable distance, without making us seem rude or uncongenial? • Is it possible to design for 
 being “friendly but not friends”? O U R O B J E C T I V E
  5. 5. • Semi-structured interviews
 with young adults in Stockholm area • Design workshops
 with participants from our industrial and academic collaborations • Design explorations
 Prototypes designed to be embedded 
 in local communal spaces R E S E A R C H P R O C E S S
  6. 6. • No desire to become friends
 “I have no interest in creating a relationship as a result of sharing 
 the same building.” • Valued being on friendly terms
 “I always attempt to be open, greeting my neighbours, I usually greet [even] people I don’t recognize [inside the apartment building].” I N T E R V I E W F I N D I N G S
  7. 7. • Swapping goods as a way to enable a sense of generalised trust without explicit face-to-face interaction • Allowing residents to acknowledge their neighbours, adding to 
 a sense of friendly neighbourly relations without removing the desired social distance D E S I G N E X P L O R AT I O N I : 
 F R I E N D L I N E S S / G A R B A G E R O O M
  8. 8. • Glass doors or windows by the entrance as areas that could support lightweight interactions among residents, requiring little in terms 
 of time or effort • Our goal was a lightweight way to use technology to foster a sense of social connection among residents D E S I G N E X P L O R AT I O N I I : AWA R E N E S S / E N T R A N C E
  9. 9. • Engaging with the broader local community, in particular those who come together around the use of neighbourhood playgrounds • Place-based photo sharing as a practice through which trust within the local community could grow in an organic way, without requiring too much too quickly D E S I G N E X P L O R AT I O N I I I : T R U S T / P L AY G R O U N D
  10. 10. • The slow and gradual nature 
 of neighbour relations • Connection that involves low 
 commitment and/or little effort can 
 still support meaningful exchanges • Designs that help neighbours to 
 ‘appear’ friendly, and to perceive 
 those around them as such “ F R I E N D LY B U T N O T F R I E N D S ” 
  11. 11. “an openness to limited interaction 
 when appropriate, 
 but without an expectation of 
 moving to a more committed relationship” F R I E N D LY B U T N O T F R I E N D S