UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Third-placeness : supporting the experience of third place with interactive public displays Roberto, Calderon


In contemporary western cities, socialization often occurs in locations with a mix of public and private characteristics. Oldenburg defined these settings as “Third Places” because they provide a space of conviviality in between the privacy of home and the rigidity of work. Coffee shops and pubs are some of the prototypical Third Places providing a welcoming and neutral atmosphere for conversation that is essential to community development. Consumer computing and telecommunications have impacted how we socialize with each other and use Third Places. This brings about the question of how technology can support Third Places or if technology has a role at all in these settings. We propose an alternative paradigm called “Third-placeness” defined as a state of socialization, of which a Third Place is a physical embodiment. Third-placeness arises when information is uncensored, which minimizes inequalities and differences, and is characterized by low barriers to information access, regularity, lightheartedness and comfort. We identify aspects of Third-placeness and study how a particular type of technology, interactive public displays, could affect these aspects. Through our observations and lessons learned we identify social, public, and physical characteristics of interactive public displays that could support aspects of Third-placeness. Our research contributes a framework, the Sociality, Publicity and Physicality Framework, that organizes aspects and requirements of designing interactive public displays for Third-placeness. It also describes a way in which to communicate about these designs and a way such designs can be approached.

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