Public Bench Tweets to Make Open Spaces More Social (Video)


Photos via Chris McNicholl

We're all for enjoying open spaces, and making great park and public benches that people want to use is part of the big picture. A new design by Chris McNicholl pushes at the edges of both enjoying a public space, and taking part in social media. Every time someone takes a seat, the bench sends a tweet -- complete with photos. I am reminded a little of the tweeting tree we saw awhile back, which used our obsession with social media to connect people to nature once again. This is a little like that, only connecting the "digital to the physical." The TweetingSeat is "designed to explore the potential for connecting physical and digital communities by logging its usage through uploading images of its users and environment to a live Twitter feed," states a press release.

Each time a person sits, a tweet is sent out along with two photos -- one of the area surrounding the bench and one of the person or people who just took a seat.

I'm a little torn about the idea. On the one hand, I like the interactive feature of the bench and as everyone knows, we're fairly obsessed with using social media to broadcast just about everything these days. But on the other hand, aren't park benches supposed to be a resting place, a reprieve from the hustle of the day where one can sit back and just breathe for a moment? If you knew your photo was being tweeted when you took a seat, would you use the bench? I'm guessing some people definitely would, but others (including me) might pick a different seat.

That said, there's an interesting feature McNicholl built into TweetingSeat:

"TweetingSeat has been created in order to explore the environments in which it is placed and look at the people whom it encounters", explains Chris. "The way in which the bench should be used has purposely been left open, allowing people and communities to build their own relationship with it."

So, it could essentially be molded in any way a community wants. And if a community wants more people to get out and enjoy parks and public spaces, this bench could be used as a tool for promoting interest. There's a lot that could go terribly wrong with this unless it is made clear that your photo is being taken and tweeted out (take Google Streetview issues as a starting point for your imagination) but there is some potential for good, here.

What do you think? Would you be excited to see this along a path in a park near you?

Either way, you can check out the bench's tweets @TweetingSeat and the photos taken so far.

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Tags: Designers | Gadgets | Social Media | Technology