My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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AirTroductions

When American called me up to tell me i’d made Gold, i groaned. It was official – i spend too much time in airports. This is of course magnified by the fact that i spend too much time praying that the person sitting next to me is at least relatively sane, doesn’t smell too badly, isn’t carrying some sneezable illness and doesn’t cry during takeoff. Of course, i have had good experiences on flights. In fact, i’ve had great ones. When working for V-Day, i sat next to a woman interested in what we were doing. I told her all about what was going on and at some point, we exchanged business cards. She sent me a check for thousands of dollars to support the cause. Of course, what i’d really like is to have more great ones. I love running into people i know in the airport or finding other interesting humans. I will never forget when Jimmy popped up his iTunes to find that Clay was somewhere within the airport. Or when i Dodgeballed that i landed and found Iggy had too. Or when i plopped down next to Jesse Jackson. Strange moments.

Social software *should* be able to help but there are so many barriers to this. You need to articulate too much and who has time? Still, as broken as they are, i’m interested in exploring the tools that might lead to entertaining interactions or at least to the development of better systems to do so. One of the ones i’m curious about is AirTroductions. Yeah, it kinda has dating overtones to it, but i’m still curious if it’d ever work. At the very least, who else is en route to Etech or SXSW or IASummit when? I have to imagine that lots of folks i know will be passing through the same airports in the next month. Anyone else willing to give it a try just to see?

Note: one of the options is: “someone who won’t talk to me at all (I just want to read/sleep/work).” You don’t have to be stuck sitting next to a chatty person even if you want someone to share a cab with at the airport. You also don’t need to change your seats to use the service – i intend to use it just to find out who else is in the airport with me.

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9 comments to AirTroductions

  • Mano Marks

    I most certainly will not try it. Introvert that I am, I spend much of my time on planes praying that the person suddenly get chatty.

  • kmeelyon

    I’m also a bit scared of airtroductions. I like to tune people out while traveling, and the expectation that I’d have to interact with someone for a six hour flight? That would make traveling more stressful for me than it already is. I’d do alright with air-introverts, if they made that service: they could pair me up with someone at the front of the flight and we could IM for a few hours. Heh.

  • I think you’ll both be humored to find that one of the options is: “someone who won’t talk to me at all (I just want to read/sleep/work)” so you can go and find your quiet partner.

  • There is a novel by Phillip K. Dick called “Galactic Pot-healer”. Somewhere a third of the way through the book he envisions something like air-introductions. It’s one of the more visionary and entertaining accounts of such a system (and one that brilliantly illustrates advantages & shortcomings of something like that). Will try find it for u.

  • Fabulous idea, and even though I’m an introvert I’m giving it a go.

    I’m traveling 10,000 miles to Etech, literally, and figured I wouldn’t find any one on most of my flights. It’s not likelt I’ll find many traveling from Australia. However, it looks like the trip from San Francisco to San Diego I’ll be sharing with a few other geeks, so that’s all good 😉

    Rich

  • Interesting concept… though I don’t fly enough to make joining worth my while.

  • Hey, we are on the same Austin/Houston flight on Wednesday!

  • I wonder if you can add a brownlist of people you DON’T want to sit next to… Red Sox fans, small children, ex-spouses, people you’ve fired or that fired you. Like the wishlist, it might be worth paying a premium for the seating.

    Side effect: the repugnant have a better chance at getting an empty seat adjacent and airlines might even spring for their treats.

  • Despite it is dangerous nowadays but I like to fly. And for me it doesn’t really matter who is seating next to me.