Nuclear Icebreakers For Your Group Meeting

By max, Sun 01 December 2013, in category Blog

Yamal Nuclear Icrebreaker | By Pink floyd88 a (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]You're a busy and galactically activated group, but maybe not everyone knows each other, your meeting starts in 5 minutes and you need an icebreaker. Except the concept of such a cheesy introduction is spoiled by painful juvenile memories. The fact is you respect the intelligence of your collaborators inasmuch as you they can be asked open-ended questions - and you earnestly want to pry into their minds.

I sometimes facilitate weekly general meetings at the hackerspace sudoroom, where we have encountered the problem of making more than just cursory introductions, in a non-patronizing way. What follows is a list of some of the questions we have used to give people a chance to show their personality through their answers.

Ranked in order of eccentricity,  from "what's your favourite so-and-so" all the way to the ultrawacky, and coupled with some background or historical answers.

  1. Favourite screen saver from history?
  2. What and when was your first mobile phone?
  3. What's the first thing you took apart? What did you first put pack together? And what's your life time percentage of [things taken apart]  / [things put back together]?
  4. In the future, what your favourite form of transportation? And which one do you snigger at in retrospect?
  5. Your favourite word that has a difference in technical and nontechnical meanings. (And use it in a punny sentence)
    • E.g. Pixelated. Sprite. Logs. Mouse.
  6. It is decreed that your computer will crash at exactly a the wrong time causing data loss, however you get to choose the word that you will be in the middle of typing as it happens. Which word do you choose, to bring a some of solace? And how far through typing do you want to be when it crashes?
    • Inspired because the week before the meeting notes vandalized as someone was typing the word "utilization" (they never got to finish).
  7. What's the correlation between cat afterlife and human afterlife? (assuming cats have 9 times the canonical lives)?
    • Mathematical points for Aleph-1, and the realism of "Unknowable"
  8. How do you avoid huge ships?
  9. Do (did) you use google reader [0,1]. Average the group score.
    • Well tensions were high on this impending event. Some one dislike it so much they responded Not-a-Number. Maybe you can average something else of the group's,
  10. What do you use as an alarm clock? And what are your snooze habits?
    • I.e. are you one of those multiple-alarm setters that doesn't trust the snooze?
  11. Give a hand signal.
    • Do you need to have verbal answers?
  12. On your keychain, what is the ratio between keys and keyrings? What is the limit of another person's keychain, in which you can still potentially love them?
  13. In light of Swedish Cinemas displaying Bechdel Test ratings alongside Age ratings for movies - Imagine you are President of the World and/or Universe and asked to completely revamp the Movie Rating System. What do you do?
    • One suggested test was the binary of is this a "what is reality?" movie.
  14. A future-seeing machine comes to you in the form of a robotic, but well styled, humanoid interviewer (think Nardwuar) that broadcasts you online via an obscure and immemorable link. you are able to find out every detail of the future you would ever like to know because the interviewbot, if run for long enough, will eventually ask you to comment on all the future things you will do. So you can find out about the future, but not in the order you want, and it will always be unnerving and eerie. How long do you spend using the machine?
  15. Your friend comes to you and says that they have that type of mattress where the sheets are constantly falling off, and wants advice.
  16. There is a logic that states that showering "top to bottom" (i.e. soaping and rinsing the topmost parts of your body first) makes sense because dirty water will always run down your body [assuming you're standing up], so this will give you the optimal cleanse. You are thrust into public town-hall style debate (the townspeople look vaguely grubby) and asked to refute this logic to fend off the increasingly angry mob.
  17. Imagine a world in which drugs work backwards. that is rather than coming up and then coming down from a high, you first come down and then get the high (and then return to baseline). this also counts for drinking, you get the hangover first, and then later become drunk. is this world preferable to you?
  18. Slicing bread loaves in the classic way is outlawed. but each individual get the choice of which of the remaining two axes they can slice along for the rest of time - So it would be possible to slice across the long axis separating left and right, like a baguette, or in depth axis separating upper and lower, like a bagel. Understanding that this is an obnoxious rule, you are allow to impose one rule back on the government, whatever it is. Do you accept the trade?