In the US, it’s called a line.
In Canada, it’s often referred to as a line-up.
Pretty much everywhere else, it’s known as a queue.
My friend Benjamen Walker is obsessed with queues. He keeps sending me YouTube clips of queue violence. This preoccupation led him to find a man known as “Dr. Queue.” Richard Larson is a queue theorist at MIT and he talks us through some of the logic behind the design of queues.
Whereas US companies like Wendy’s and American Airlines once prided themselves on their invention of the single, serpentine, first-come first-served queue, more and more companies are instituting priority queues, offering different wait times for different classes of customers.
Benjamen Walker is the host and producer of Too Much Information from WFMU. TMI explores the issues and conflicts of life in the digital era and regularly features some of the leading sages of the information age as well as original fiction and radio drama. It is very important that you subscribe to this podcast. He is also the host and producer of The Big Ideas, a monthly philosophy program from The Guardian UK. Again, it’s just too good to miss. Don’t be a dummy!
How about filling in the comments with stories of good and bad queue design? I know you have stories.