Subtleties of human interaction

I made a behavioral observation when stepping out of the bus this morning that I though was somewhat interesting. As the bus stopped and I was standing up to the aisle, a girl was stepping to the aisle on the other side. We were both listening to music on iPods (the white earbuds are just so discernible!) and hence had to negotiate who goes first by using hand signs and by pretending to speak to each other. We both mouthed something around “you go first” and hand-signed the globally recognizable “you go first” hand-sign of passing the hand to the direction of expected movement.

I realized this happens all the time now – people are aurally in a virtual music world (listening to music on an MP3 player) and have to communicate without sound. Looking at people obviously listening to music, there’s a pretty broad range of behavior that emerges from this, from totally ignoring others leading to bumps to being extra careful and polite while not actually uttering a word in real world. Obviously all this did happen before but at least in Finland, only the MP3 player phenomena has resulted in massive adaption of having the earbuds on all the time.

Given that deaf people have had to live in this land for long, it made me think if this has any implications for understanding people who have to live without the real world sounds. Or if we should be looking at how the deaf deal with signage in situations like above.

Makes me wonder how long it’ll take for us to realistically model all this in a way that’s intuitive to use. I know there’s a lot of research being put to this but so far the results seem to mostly be in the deep recesses of the uncanny valley.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.