“Break the Ice”: The Use of Technology to Initiate Communication in Public Spaces

  • Matjaž Kljun
  • Klen Čopič Pucihar
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 474)


The use of mobile technologies in public spaces often serves to disconnect users from their surroundings and alienate them from current social setting. However, digital interactions are often seen as the most appropriate method for communicating with strangers because they can be impersonal and free people from the fear of face-to-face rejection and social judgment that is based on first appearance and impression. This paper aims to explore if the perceived sense of security when using internet and mobile technologies for communication could also be established in a public setting of a cafeteria and benefit individuals when they are lonely in a public space. For this purpose, we built a technology probe that facilitates digital interactions (e.g. games, instant messaging, collaborative sketching, etc.) between collocated individuals in a public settings of a cafeteria by placing tablet computers on all tables. Our exploratory study shows that people could benefit from such a system as it is likely to alter their common behaviour—a result of a new possibility of initiating communication without the fear of jeopardizing their integrity.


Privacy Mobile technology Security Intimacy First contact Rejection Digital interactions Technology Communicating with strangers 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FAMNIT, University of PrimorskaKoperSlovenia

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