FreqOUT! is always on the look out for interesting artists and development or research units who we'd like to work with.
Through the Neural Net online magazine we have spotted The Familiar Stranger Project developed by Eric Paulos and Elizabeth Goodman from Intel Berkeley Lab, which we think would be an interesting project to collaborate with - possibly linking group of young people in the UK and their daily routines to this high profile research in the USA.
The project uses Bluetooth technology to explore the loose connections we have to people we see during our daily routines, but never speak to. A good example is a person seen on the bus every morning: if this person fails to show up we suddenly notice it. The claim is that the relationship we have with the familiar strangers is indeed a real relationship in which both parties agree to mutually ignore each other. And this familiarity with strangers help us to feel part of a group.
The researchers claim that current trends in mobile phone usage increasingly divide people from co-located strangers within their community. In quirky situations or strange places in fact we use our mobile phones uncomfortably, dramatically decreasing the chances of interacting with individuals outside our social groups.
The creators Paulos and Goodman are developing a tool capable of detecting other Bluetooth mobile phone users. One of the most powerful elements is that it is not driven by the bits of an online network, but by actual real-life, by the movement and interaction (or non-interaction) of others whose path we cross. Therefore, the number of 'participants' is not simply the size of some database on a central server but a more powerful and personal membership in urban life. To be specific, every Bluetooth mobile phone user is within the Jabberwocky community.
You can find out more about the project at