The Future of Public Space

Just don’t.

You did Zoom happy hour, awkward work meetings on Skype, family chats on WhatsApp, virtual sex on Facetime, and you were good at answering your boss, colleagues, friends and relatives while you were sitting on the toilet or in a video game party.

But, you have no story about it. Good or bad. Jimmy didn’t ironically put anything in his butt while he was drunk (again). Jennifer didn’t throw up over the balcony, destroying Mrs. Smith’s roses on the terrace below. And Max and Lawrence didn’t sneak into the bathroom to cheat only to be caught in the act later that night. Don’t lie to us on this—online events don’t have a good story, gossip or any build-up for the next party… For now.

Because a good party, a good family event, or, to be simple, a good memory, is like a good episode of your favourite show: it needs a context, set-up and many pay-offs. Conversations are a kind of constant social writing and build-up of a souvenir to be shared with others. Like a good Instagram story where virtual identities become characters—you follow characters you like or discover others that could be cool to meet for fun…or alchemy…or sex.

And when you meet again at the next party, nobody heads directly for the dance floor (except Karen, but she’s an idiot), instead, you gather around the bar for a first drink and to people watch. That funny anecdote from the last party is the perfect conversation starter to reconnect. A kind of social set-up to share with friends. And the rest of the evening rebounds on this moment. In space, this setup is a foyer, an entrance or a lobby– a place to gather and frame the rest of the experience.

And, just like in the real world, with online meetings or events, the party doesn’t start immediately. It’s still a step-by-step process. We need a framework to prepare us to enter the experience. Like a video game intro, opening film credits, an opera prologue or the entrance of a theme park.