Scott Ginsberg ("that guy with the nametag") has been wearing a nametag every day since November 2, 2000. The nametag creates, in effect, a personal "front porch", projecting an openness that enhances approachability, with respect to both other people's willingness to approach him and their willingness to be approached by him. Scott's web site includes a short video interview where he expounds on his "front porch philosophy":
This whole idea is ... you're throwing yourself into the sea -- you're putting yourself out there and opening yourself up to other people and as a byproduct ... people are going to say hi more and give you more attention, but you're letting other people know who you are and giving them the opportunity ... The problem with communication right now in our society is that people don't want to take that pivotal first step; from there, friendships can form, and all you gotta do is just take that initiative ... We have to use this short time not mathematically but artistically to, in our own way, express something ... I don't want everyone to wear name tags, I want everyone to find some method of expression to say what they want to say. Friendliness is just a way of life that needs to be spread, and it can be spread if you're doing it one person at a time.
Scott is adopting an ultra-low-tech approach to creating the same kind of opportunities for awareness and interactions -- or, in his words, connection and communication -- that are the goal of our proactive display applications, which rely upon a different kind of tag (RFID) and large displays (with RFID readers) that can show content from people's online profiles when they are nearby. We are both trying to help people express themselves in a non-intrusive and non-threatening manner. Rick Borovoy is another kindred spirit, with his higher-tech nTags, which combine the tag, the reader and the display into one small package that people can wear around their necks. Although I don't expect that most people are willing to wear a paper nametag, an RFID tag or an nTag on a regular basis, I do believe the proliferation of sensing and display technologies will expand the opportunities for self-expression, and thereby, awareness and interactions, in a variety of spaces and places.
I've found all kinds of interesting and inspiring insights, experiences and wisdom on Scott's web site and blog. Among them are some recommendations into the effective use of nametags (of the ultra-low-tech variety). I'll be attending a "visitor's day" breakfast meeting of a local chapter of Business Networking International -- which, as synchronicity would have it, was a topic in a recent post on Scott's blog -- tomorrow, where I will experiment with some of his recommendations.
[I first discovered Scott's blog via smallbusinessbranding]