CMU Meet ‘n GreetDuring the summer before I started at Carnegie Mellon, I designed and built a system for the incoming design grads to say hello to one other.
The whimsical drag-and-drop interface served as an ice-breaker for the emerging community.
The ProblemIn the months before I arrived in Pittsburgh, several of the grads formed a Yahoo mailing list to touch base. Since most of the conversations were fairly utilitarian, I decided to experiment with a more light-hearted approach for building connections within that community.
My ApproachI kept the interface to a minimum. Each student is given their own icon, allowing them to mill around the virtual room and introduce themselves to a growing circle of friends.
Context is formed through the behavior of the icons. For example, if a student uploads a greeting with their image, then clicking their icon causes the other students to gather around and listen to the introduction. On the other hand, if they prefer not to say anything, then their icon bashfully shakes its head "no" when clicked.
The system allowed people to upload their own greetings and photos. Their pictures were automatically formatted by the server and added to the database. Or, if they preferred not to include an image, the system assigned them a random avatar, ranging from the Jolly Green Giant to Dick Clark.