Digital Meeting Places: Creating Intimate and Safe Connections with Digital Means

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Documents is a digital platform offered to Danish municipalities, and is used as an element in municipal initiatives aimed at strenghtening mental health and preventing loneliness among the municipality's citizens. The company behind has been successful in marketing as a "social" platform positioned in contrast to other commercial digital platforms.

In the paper, we consider as a socio-technical infrastructure (Star 1999) and we look more closely at the invisible 'articulation work' (Suchman 1996) that is necessary to configure as a platform that mediates intimate connections between people. This allows us to articulate the distributed, practical, and moral work done by municipalities, businesses and elderly people, which shapes as a safe and intimate meeting place.

Based on an ethnographic study among older users in two municipalities, we explore how is articulated in practice, from three different 'sites': 1) The socio-technical expectations (Mc Neal et al. 2016) and moral visions of 'good old-age life' 2) The concrete screening and exclusion of content and users 3) The expectations, digital production and experiences of use in practice.

Across the three sites we show how both human and nonhuman actors form connections digitally and physically. We argue that the different actors aim at different connections and have different expectations, that can work against each other. Finally, we discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise when municipalities try to mediate social contact with digital means.


McNeil, Maureen, et al. 2016. Conceptualizing Imaginaries of Science, Technology, and Society. In: The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Ulrike Felt et al., eds. p. 435-464. Cambridge: MIT Press

Suchman, Lucy. 1996. Supporting articulation work. In: Computerization and controversy: Value conflicts and social choices 2nd edition. Rob Kling, ed. p. 407-423. San Diego: Academic Press

Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. The ethnography of infrastructure. American behavioral scientist 43(3):377-391
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe Digitally Engaged Patient - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 11 Jun 201912 Jun 2019


ConferenceThe Digitally Engaged Patient
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen
Internet address

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