A big issue with speaking to strangers in public is worrying about other people who are not a part of the conversation listening in. Be it reacting or chiming in. Even doing nothing. It simply raises the risk of looking weird to more people than just the one or two you wanted to speak to. Such is the societal norm this far gone.
That's why I think that designing public spaces with a caccoonish vibe is a pretty great contribution to solving this issue. As in the second photo in this contribution.
Having water in fountains as a white background noise works great as it is enjoyable for most people, and shortens the area in which the voice is projected. So maybe having more small fountains in parks could mitigate the social stigma too.
I like the way the benches are laid out here, as they are close to each other so you can start conversations with people, yet be private on your own bench, and the whole areas are small enough to give it a private secluded vibe. So having these mini islands in broader parks or plazas seems like a great idea.
Making smaller compartments, for like two seats or four, on public transportation would be too expensive for the benefit most likely.
What are some other ways we can create more private sections in public areas?