Metro Experiments

Check out the previous post about priority seats and their problems, where i also proposed some theories about cultural differences and people’s tendency to help one another within a group; potential influences on diffusion of responsibility. These were identified as the level of privacy, equality and corruption within a culture.

In this post i’ll propose two applications that address some of these factors and influence the way we interact as a society and as a result affect the level of diffusion of responsibility.

One of the influences mentioned was the level of privacy. As i see it, the more we interact with strangers the more we feel responsible for them. I personally cant have a brief conversation or exchange smiles with a stranger and a minute later see them fall down and not help. Starting from this notion, the first idea is an installation in metros or subways to increase the interaction between people while waiting for their trains. You can see most benches or -side by side- seats in waiting areas are all fixed in a way that encourages little interaction between people, a simple thing as turning the fixed chairs towards one another can invoke a little interaction such as a smile between strangers.

The installation consists of a hidden camera, a dangling Polaroid cutout and clear marks and instructions of how this works. The camera will be programmed to only snap a photo when a certain amount of people are detected -using face detection- behind the polaroid cutout, a count down will be placed to show a number and whenever a person takes position it decreases, till it reaches ‘zero’ person and snaps a photo.

The photo concept is inviting, taking photos is something that almost everyone practices daily, then the next step is to get people into a game like mood where they try to figure out how to get the camera to work, and hence invite other curious people to join. And there you go a photo with a complete stranger, a complete breach of privacy.

Another proposed influence is the level of corruption in different countries and how it spreads this feeling of ‘we are all in this together’. Of course we don’t want to increase the level of corruption in any country! What i would like to address is the level of sympathy or empathy we feel towards one another. Here’s what i had in mind:

The metro calls its passengers for a simple challenge: How about a free ride if.. you get to do it while wearing a fake pregnancy belly! or a fake cast! Experience what an injured has to go through during transport, maybe through this empathetic experience the next time you see a pregnant lady you’d say “i’ve been there”


I’d like to experiment with these ideas and see if they would have even a slight effect on how we behave towards one another.

Would you predict a positive change in passengers’ behaviour?