Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So You Wanna Go Noonhatting?
Image from Andrew Saeger / Seattle P-I

So what is Noonhatting? It is the name of a website that lets you enter your e-mail address, what day you want to have lunch and what general area you want to have a lunch in and then a computer program matches you up with up to three other random strangers who want to do lunch in the same geographical area. That’s it… there is no matching for gender and/or age and this is not a dating site and there are no background checks or registration. The potential for discomfort of just two strangers doing lunch on their first (and possibly last) meet is sought to be alleviated by having a group of no larger than four.

Noonhat is the brainchild of Brian Dorsey a software developer in the Seattle area. Link

At first, Dorsey, a software developer at Vulcan, had doubts. When he told
people about the Web site, he said, "I got a lot of blank stares.’What? Huh? Why
would anyone do that?' "
Turns out people do want to break bread with total
strangers. Since Noonhat was launched in June, more than 400 lunches have been
scheduled (although Dorsey doesn't know how many have actually happened).

"I was just kind of thinking that I wanted to have lunch with new people all
the time," said Dorsey, who is 33. "Just from a selfish standpoint, I wanted to
have lunch with a really wide variety of people."
Noonhat offers its service
all over North America, but most of the users so far are in the Seattle metro
area. Dorsey also thinks the site is a good way for out-of-town visitors to meet
up with locals.

There is more at the article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the reporter Kristin Dizon writes about her own experience “Noonhatting” if anyone is interested in reading.

Personally, I think it is a neat idea although I am not sure I would want to have lunch with complete strangers.

But perhaps there is something to be said for just taking a chance, who knows? But as a fairly private person I would rather rely on my own instincts and means to decide if I want to converse with a stranger on the train, over lunch or at any public spot.

What do you folks think?

And while I was writing this post up it reminded me of another program I heard on
NPR a while back.

Couple Finds Good Will in Taste Tests
All Things Considered, June 29, 2007 · A food-loving couple from San Diego has launched a quirky social experiment: They go to restaurants and ask if they can taste other people's food. Surprisingly, most people happily comply — even offering
their own forks!

While I am all for sharing what I eat with other folks if asked (even strangers), the whole offering their own forks to sample what they were having does sound very icky!
Are social networks and networking websites a hot thing?


Lotus Reads said...

Noonhatting has me completely intrigued, Sanjay! Although I am not averse to having a meal with strangers (sitting around a teppenyaki table or communal eating at a huge Indian wedding often feels like one is dining with strangers) I don't know if I would intentionally plan to break bread with people I didn't know.

Does it say something about our society that there is this desire, or even need, to connect with total strangers? Are we not having fulfilling social lives, or is it just curiosity about other people and an urge to expand our social networks that make us want to do this?

Hmmm, and as for sampling other people's food at restaurants, I don't know...have yet to give that one some thought!

Great post, fascinating content...thank you!

Sanjay said...

Lotus, Thank you so very much for your comment, you bring up excellent points. Noonhatting has me intrigued too but more from the perspective of an observer of the zeitgeist of our times. I tend to be a fairly private person and rather quiet, so you won't find me lunching intentionally with strangers either.

Your point about Teppenyaki tables and communal eating at Indian weddings is indeed fascinating. Even though one might feel they are dining with strangers at a wedding there is a bond of belonging to one or the other or both sides (bride or the groom).

I agree that it is a comment about us as a society that we are all perhaps so "plugged in" but yet seek more fulfilling lives. Your observation is very much on the mark and it could be one or some combination of all the things that you mention.

Thank you for your kind words. Have a wonderful day ahead.

Diana said...

Noonhatting sounds rather brilliant, especially for someone who's travelling and tired of lunching alone.

I'd probably let a stranger have a bite of my meal (but probably not my sandwich) but they'd have to bring their own fork...

ML said...

I'm too shy to participate, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would.

Sanjay said...

Diana, Thank you for your comment. It is rather tempting to noonhat, although I am not sure I will ever really do that.

ML. The article said about 400 ppl had signed up but the owner of the website does not know how many lunches actually happened. Thanks for stopping by.

Aditi said...

well noonhatting is a fabulous idea if u are in a new city and dont know anyone and dont really want to eat alone all the time.. also who knows what contacts might come from it.. whether its for me not too sure of that..
totally agree eww on sharing forks

NainaAshley said...

Noonhatting sounds very interesting. I'm a shy person too so I don't know if I'd personally do it here. May be I'd give it a try if I was in a new city. I remember being all alone in a strange city , strange country, and having to dine alone for a month. Mostly I'd end up getting something to go but on the rare occasions that I tried to eat out, I got strange stares that were either full of curiosity or pity or both. Wish there was such a service back then.

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