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How to Stay Human
A Draft Connies' Guide

1. The tram conductors’ charter

Left to progress, human interaction will be increasingly mediated by machines. Devices like Walkmans, mobile phones and ticket machines cut people offer from each other. While the big bucks of monuments and great events bring crowds together, a city needs the small change of public interaction in order to maintain its inner life. The small change of weather talk and eye contact circulates in places where strangers spend periods of time together, such as public transport, bank counters, elevators and street corners.

Traditionally, tram conductors kindled our public spirit in their interactions with passengers. While they have been replaced by ticket machines, conductors still function as a lobby for being human. What follows is a draft guide for city inhabitants in how to stay human when faced with faceless interactions. This guide was developed in a workshop at RMIT Gallery during the Goodbye Kind World exhibition. Other materials related to the guide are available online at

2. Basic principles

Be generous—always have something to give, even if it is nominal

Make eye contact—

Be public—respond to actions in public space such as mobile phone conversations

Resist—evade fares, don’t validate tickets; get cash from bank tellers

Ad lib—


1. Begging

1.1. Always have something to give

Even if you have doubts about the legitimacy of their need, it is always been to offer something. It can be a coin or even a piece of fruit

1.2. Be up front

Make eye contact.

2. ATM

2.1. Use the teller

Try to keep a passbook and use the services of a human teller. Make this commitment known to the teller as a point of solidarity.

2.2. Start a conversation

While waiting in the queue, make an attempt to talk with others. It is easy if you bring something that starts the conversation for you, like a child.

3. Call waiting

3.1. Don’t use it yourself

The call waiting beep interrupts a conversation and breaks the intimacy

3.2. Acknowledge it in another

If you hear it on the other end, a very polite response is to say ‘Is it mine?’, giving the person the opportunity to respond.

4. Telemarketing

4.1. Humanise the interaction

The telemarketing inquiry is an opportunity to interact with a complete stranger. Make a conversation out of the questions.

5. Mobile phones

5.1. Avoid use

Like call waiting, mobile phones can break up the flow of conversation and prevent you being fully in the moment.

5.2. Treat calls as public events

Show that you can hear what the person is saying. Use someone else’s call as the opportunity for conversation with other listeners.

6. Walkman

6.1. It is not private

The Walkman makes a noisy, even through the earphones. Maintaining silence together is a public contract. The Walkman

7. Transport

7.1. Avoid fares

Don’t reward the system for removing tram conductors. Use fare withdrawal as a vote against the faceless system.

7.2. Don’t validate

The need to validate tickets is the consequence of the break-up of one system into several competing transport companies. Don’t participate in this economic irrationalism.

7.3. Pity the inspector

Remind the inspector that their job is contrary to the spirit of public transport by showing pity when asked to provide a ticket.



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