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The Familiar Stranger Project

Familiar Strangers are individuals that we regularly observe but do not interact with. By definition a Familiar Stranger (1) must be observed, (2) repeatedly, and (3) without any interaction. The claim is that the relationship we have with these Familiar Strangers is indeed a real relationship in which both parties agree to mutually ignore each other, without any implications of hostility. A good example is a person that one sees on the subway every morning. If that person fails to appear, we notice.

So say the organizers of the Familiar Stranger Project at the Intel Research Laboratory at Berkeley, who say they explore “Anxiety, Comfort and Play in Public Places.”

(Thanks to investigator Allie Dyson for bringing this to our attention.)

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