Monday, 15 March 2010

Assignment 3

In this assignment we were asked to observe and record how people behave and interact and try and detect any unspoken etiquette and rules. Obviously observation is a huge part of design but we often are oblivious to the way that people interact with design and the unspoken rules and regulations in society that are formed by design. As I'm from an Island I decided that the ferry would be an interesting place to do this assignment. I'm from the Isle of Bute so it's only a brief 30minute crossing but this allowed plenty of time to observe the behaviour of the passengers.

There are the various different categories of people that travel on the ferry; the commuters, the students, the tourists and the locals usually heading or coming back from a day's shopping in Glasgow. As I am a regular passenger on the ferries I am well aware of the unspoken rules and regulations but thought it would be interesting to record other passenger's behaviour. There are some signs which guide passengers on their journey but it's interesting to see people who have obviously never been on the ferry before as they are not quite sure where to sit and what usual drill is so they often observe people who do know what to do.

Before boarding the ferry you must buy your ticket in the ticket office then sit in the waiting room and wait to board the ferry. This in itself was interesting as it's obvious who the locals are as they are the ones who know when to make their way to the gangway and where to wait in order of being the first on board. Tourists who didn't know what to do looked like they followed on behind the locals however there was some signage to help the users for example signs saying please Que this side and please be ready to board 5 minutes before departure time. There was no particular order of the people boarding the ferry apart from whoever was at the gate first and the elderly people. There were no un-written rules about who got on first but there was a written rule about letting the passengers off the ferry before getting on it.

Once boarded the ferry it was obvious to see that some of the regular passengers have their favorite seats so it was a mad rush for them to race the rest of the passengers to their preffered spots. I for instance always have the same seat that I prefer to sit in as it has an amazing view but is also one of the comfiest on the ferry and is close to one of the televisions so I can watch the news if I want to. It was also obvious to spot the regular passengers as they communicated with the staff on the ferry. One thing that i noticed about tourists was that when they first came onto the ferry the first thing they done was look about at the views then went to the cafe to get a drink then would go to find a seat but all the seats would be taken whereas the regulars went straight to get a seat and then when everyone was settled they would then go and get their coffees so that they had a guaranteed seat.
During the crossing many people do various different things, for instance when I'm on the ferry on a Monday morning some of the early commuters are doing work and preparation for the week ahead and I've also noticed one regular female commuter does her hair and make-up on the ferry. I also noticed that the commuters come onto the ferry and sit in little groups with other people who they travel with every day so it's quite a sociable journey as most people are sitting with people they know chatting away even if it is only 6.30am. This made it quite obvious to see who was a regular passenger n who wasn't. On a Friday when I get on the ferry usually about 5pm most passengers are relaxing and having a glass of wine or a beer. I've also noticed that there is quite often a young group of guys or girls who are not from the island that are going to Rothesay for the weekend and there usually having a few drinks and having fun on the boat preparing for their drink fuelled weekend. On a Friday there was alsi lots of students coming back from a week at college or university and they just sat chatting or having a drink.There was no awkwardness between the locals and tourists as the locals are often too busy to bother about what the tourists are doing. Another thing that made it easy to spot the local islanders was that they would often see someone they knew and go and talk with them for ten minutes then go back to their seats. So there are no rules about getting up and changing seats or walking about because it is a very open seating area.
On departing from the boat the locals know when to get up and wait at the door so they can get off the boat before the crowd so the locals seen them getting up and followed. Obviously uncertain of when to actually get up and head to the door as there is no voice-overs or mentions of when to get up and go to the door so in most cases its just a matter of following the people who look like they know. The ferry journey is not quiet or boring like a train or bus journey, it is very sociable and enjoyable.
In conclusion I found this assignment interesting as we often don't notice things like peoples behaviour and unspoken rules in society but when you pay attention and observe, then you gain a deeper understanding into everyday life of certain people and their mannerisms.

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