New Public Spaces

We live in a connected, but disconnected world. We can connect to anyone in the world with just a simple tap. We’re able to find almost all answer, no matter what the question is. We’re constantly chatting with our friends, sharing moments on Facebook or Twitter, and capturing everything with our smartphones.

Smart phones have miraculously enabled people to stay connected, informed, and entertained, even in transit. We can now text, tweet, Skype, check Facebook updates, email in-boxes, Pandora channels and news feeds from a subway stop or street corner.Smart phones have given users the impression that they move through communal spaces as if in private bubbles. “They feel that everywhere they are, they have their privacy.” - Hatuka

What’s weird about smartphones is that they completely change our perception of public spaces; no longer public, but private.

Those who walk through the streets with their headphones in; or constantly looking at a tiny screen; don’t notice other people as people. They see them as obstacles the need to avoid to stay connected to that little screen.

They live in their own bubble, connected to thousands of other bubbles, but disconnected from the one they’re physically in. They believe they have privacy, even while walking in a busy street, surrounded by tens of people.


the problem

All those private bubbles within a public space results in some awkward situations. Which social code do we follow when we meet someone? Do we follow the code of a public space (where we make eye contact with one another), or do we follow the Facebook social code (where we expect the other to “Like” whatever you just did), or do we simple ignore one another?

Public spaces are becoming more private all the time, so how do we deal with this? Do we encourage this trend? Or do we try and make it public again? Whatever we do, I believe we need technology; apps that make smartphone users aware of the public spaces they’re in or to block all cell signals.