After our class discussion last Monday, Jonah recommended I check out iso-phone. I guess it was my reference to letter writing and how I’d noticed the effect that your environment can have on the letter that you write. Personally, I find this effect to be not only interesting, but also essential. It’s part of where you find your voice when you sit down to write a letter.

isophone is an experiment that deals with just this phenomenon. After all the talk about how the context (the form of a method of communication) shapes the content (that is, what’s actually said), it’s interesting to see that there is a whole other context involved as well being addressed, that is, the environments of the people who are communicating. Iso-phone highlights this by attempting to remove the communicating parties from any external stimulus.

While the thought is an interesting one, I can’t see it as being terribly affective. I suppose the point is to give the talker nothing else to focus on, other than the conversation itself, but this, I think, would affect the conversation even more than paying for your coffee while your on your cell phone. Floating in a pool of water, in pitch blackness, is just not something we, as humans are used to doing. Sure, you might be more inclined to remember the intimate details of the conversation you had after the fact, but only really because you were bobbing up and down and (probably) feeling a bit like an idiot.

Maybe this isn’t the point, and I’m open to the idea that I’m misinterpretting, but the only other affect I could imagine this having – the hyper awareness of the tone and cadence of the other person’s voice, perhaps – also seems contrary to the reasons why we speak. There are inuendos in the way a person speaks that imply something beyond the words they speak, which makes voice communication an affective tool, but most humans have the social aptitude to realize that they should politely ignore most of them. On that note, most humans have the social aptitude to hold a conversation without having to be isolated in a pool of water.

Of course, I am also open to the idea that I may just be reading too much into this. If nothing else it’s an interesting commentary on just how diverted our attention is when we communicate, and a fun (albeit, kind of creepy-looking) take on how to separate the content of a conversation from the context in which it takes place. While I personally think that your environmental surrounding are an integral part of that context, I can also appreciate the extremes to which the idea was taken in this piece.