On public transit, we all tend to become jerks. It’s a defense mechanism, a means to get from point A to point B with the least amount of social harassment (because, really, when does anyone have anything nice to say to you on the train or bus?). People want money, they want your seat, or they want you to listen to their loud phone conversation with their ex.
B Line Pulse is a social app that’s attempting to buck this trend. Developed by Hornall Anderson and 4Culture for Seattle’s RapidRide B Line bus–the Bellevue-Redmond route that ferries many Microsoft employees to work–it’s a web app that asks the bus riding community questions and creates artistic visualizations from the collective answers.
The daily questions are icebreakers (“What color do you feel like today?”), plain trivia (“Guess the average age of a Bellevue resident”), and a means to vent about your experience (“How do you feel when a fellow rider talks to you on the bus?”). Using the app is like filling out a comment card for your life, and answers are tallied in colors and shapes, instavisualizations that are as satisfying as the anonymous answers themselves. And at the same time, the app is tracking stats like how often and quickly you answer, awarding badges for participation in a touch of gamification that adds levity to the experience.
So is B Line Pulse a game? Is it art? The designers won’t categorize the experience under one umbrella, and that’s what makes it interesting. At the end of the day, it’s just a satisfying phone experience that’s attempting to, not distract you from your daily commute with Angry Birds and Facebook updates, but maybe improve your whole outlook on it.
And, in a sense, it gets you talking to your fellow a-holes, reminding everyone that, yes, we’re all in this stinky dirty box together. (Plus, who knew, about 50% of riders won’t mind if you strike up a conversation.) If you’d like to try B Line Pulse, you don’t have to fly to Seattle and get a job at or around the Microsoft campus. Just visit the link below on your mobile device.