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W@L Theme: Performative interfaces to seed social encounters

This theme seeks to explore notions and techniques around provoking social encounters in public spaces through the use of performative interfaces. It starts from the observation that while many public spaces (streets, shopping centres, museums, galleries, food courts) have high number of people in them there is quite a limited amount of social encounters where people interact with new people for more than functional purposes. Much of the work in this area is focussed around provoking social encounters through engaging artefacts or interfaces, particularly those involving play, creativity and fun (EIPS2013) and through managing the trajectory of people moving from audience to performer ( Taylor 2014). One area that this theme is particularly interested in, as an alternative appoach, is through socially awkward interfaces that could promote encounters through being social inappropriate or controversial – whether in terms of content or actions required (though this is in no way a constraint on this theme).

What will we do

We’ll start by throwing ideas around without much regard to technologies coupled with role-playing of those ideas to explore them in-person. We’ll then consider technologies that would be appropriate to support the various ideas and use this to tie down to a specific area, which we’ll role-play more fully as documentation. Participants would be welcome to bring along their own technologies to incorporate at this and the following stages. We also encourage participants from all backgrounds to take part in this theme.

The second stage of the theme will be a move towards prototyping a specific idea. This will involve some technical building, but techniques such as Wizard-of-OzĀ  would be highly appropriate and allow more focus on the interaction and social impacts – i.e. by building a technically minimal solution.


The individuals in this theme will develop of series of design ideas, which will be documented on paper (as sketches, mindmaps, storyboards, etc) and well as through videos of them being role-played. The prototype built will be documented also through video and photos.

Further Reading

EIPS 2013 –

Taylor 2014 –