A Little Awkward
How to socialize the hipster way and get a discount at Starbucks along the way.
By Maria Popova
iPod earbuds on, passing people by without eye contact, drifting through the metropolitan maze in your own little bubble. Sound familiar? It’s the Large City Syndrome, and we’ve all got it to some extent. So how do you de-strangerize and rekindle that “social being” side of your existence?
A little awkward is a quirky, inspired, distinctly hipster project that aims to encourage interaction between strangers in the city, coordinating low-key meetings between those who want to meet new people in urban environments.
The project is the work of two students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Alex Abreu and Stella Kim, for the annual students’ ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) show.
The way it works is brilliantly simple: To create a meet-up event, you specify the expiration time — could be 30 minutes, could be 3 days — and give a quick clothing description. Then, the system matches you up with someone else in your area who’s looking for an encounter at that time and each of you gets a text message with the nearby location of the meet-up (which the system picks out for you), the time you have to get there, and the other person’s clothing description so you can spot them right away.
Besides the undeniable cool factor and good times potential of the project, the founders are also contemplating some interesting marketing partnerships — namely, hooking up with specific venues in an area to sponsor the project. In return, A little awkward would push people to those venues for meet-ups, offering users perks like coupons or other exclusive discounts at the local partner hangouts.
50% off a Starbucks Chai Latte in good company doesn’t sound like a bad plan for a Sunday afternoon.
We just dig the idea of jolting people out of their urban routine and allowing them to surrender to chance and uncomplicated fun and all those things that somehow gave way the grown-up reality of work and rent and mandatory Friday night dinner parties.
Published December 29, 2008