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August 11, 2005

Hungry and lonely

Is the collective intelligence of the web overrated? A couple of nights ago, 18 people turned up for dinner. We pushed three tables together and sat together around an irregular rectangle. It felt, to me at least, as if the shape and dimensions of the ad-hoc table did little to foster social interaction. So yesterday I spent two hours failing to find a website that would tell me the the optimal shape and size of a dining table for 12-18 people. Googling design + table + size + social first yielded TableTop2006. This interaction design workshop in Australia is all about Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer Systems; the website mentions augmented reality, user interface technologies, multi-modal interactions, computer supported collaborative work, and information visualisation - but it makes no mention of food. A description of dining tables in the Roman Empire proved diverting, but did not answer my boring questions about size and shape. The nearest I got was Guidelines For Choosing The Size And Shape Of Dining Tables. But that text-only site contains no drawings or room layouts - and I would have to import the author, a cabinetmaker (also, curiously, from Australia) to benefit from his tacit knowledge. Surely someone can do better? The answer seems to be oval - but what sort of oval?


Posted by John Thackara at August 11, 2005 07:30 AM


Here's the US Army's take on the subject, for hostesses throwing parties for the generals and their wives:


Posted by: Bob Jacobson at August 20, 2005 02:46 AM

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