At the intersection of Spring St. and 5th, there are many tasks that are trying to be performed. Active and passive alike, both are shoved into the same small area. Cars rush by while pedestrians hurry across the street and students cram for their upcoming test. Students sometimes study and read at the tables outside of Starbucks, trying to concentrate over the sounds of cars, passersby and others sitting around them. I think that a device that could assist in this task would be a device at each of the tables that uses active noise control technologies. This is the same technology that is used in noise cancelling headphones. It basically sends out another noise wave to specifically cancel the first. This method would create a more focused atmosphere for the user. This device would not only be applicable for a person who was studying or reading, but also for another task that was taking place at the intersection, several meeting that were going on. It doesn’t even have to be a noise that just cancels out unwanted noise, it can improve the atmosphere too. For example, a pleasant noise could include relaxing music that not only cancels with the sounds of traffic but also puts the user at ease, contrasting from the otherwise stressful and high energy atmosphere of the entire intersection. A more cheerful conversation among friends could be assisted with lighter, upbeat music. With this method, the intersection can both be a place of movement and of stillness, that can be used for multiple activities, and doesn’t favor either. This interface would be better as a sound directed interface because if so it would be able to sense the tone in the conversation and create an atmosphere that matches the tone. This is an example of similarity attraction, because if the user has a tone of ambience that is similar to the tone of their conversation, it creates a better experience for the user. I believe that an interface directed at creating a more focused environment for those who study or have meetings at the intersection, that eliminates unwanted sound and adds to the task by mimicking the tone of the conversation. This would help to create a small bubble of solitude among the chaos.
The 4th floor of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is a study location frequented by many Tech students. The space is always “buzzing” with a white noise that provides the ideal backdrop for finalizing a lab report due to the 5th floor at noon or reviewing for that calculus quiz in Skiles at 3:05. Many noises contribute to this soundscape—the ding of elevators, the clamor of feet ambling up and down the central staircase—but the babbling of voices is the keynote sound that makes the Clough a perfect place to study.
Though conventional wisdom preaches utter silence as the best promoter of productivity, the noise of the Clough offers something that silence cannot—stability. In a sparsely populated soundscape, such as the Library, the squeak of a chair can radically alter the entire soundscape, shattering concentration like a pane of glass. In contrast, the chatter of the Clough creates a soundscape that is difficult to alter, discouraging selective hearing and promoting sound as an aid to productivity. Voices from all levels of the building bounce from concrete face to concrete face, mixing and mingling to create an unintelligible hum of conversation. The constituent signals comprising this hum have been blended so thoroughly that decoding any information regarding their original content or source is near impossible. It is a uniform and indistinct sound that does not lend itself to semantic or causal listening and allows the brain to focus fully on comprehending a text or composing a paper.
Yet, the amalgam of human voice that is the soundmark of the Clough is not entirely void of meaning. It retains a bustling timbre that is insidious. It chants “there are things to be done.” It energizes on the subconscious level and provides the vigor necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. The next time you are getting ready to crank out a big paper, skip the Library and employ the excited hum of the Clough as the backdrop for your toils.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time walking between different buildings, getting lost and exploring the almost unbelievably beautiful campus in midtown Atlanta. Being an international student, I didn’t have an opportunity to tour the campus prior to the first week of school but I began my exploration for the perfect study spot on Day 1 of FASET. Living in a traditional dorm, I instantly recognized the inherently flawed soundscape of the small dorm room withit naturally victimised by noise pollution. After exploring the conventional student favourites of Library and Clough, I could finally find serenity in an area with soundmark designed to calm, relax, and concentrate a human being. The backyard of Eighth Street Apartment is the perfect outdoor space for concentrating, relaxing and solitary meditation during the day. The visual and acoustic traits of this landscape are remarkable.
First, the place lies at the near end of West Campus, allowing it to enjoy isolation during the daytime. This permits channelizing your senses into single focus and have a true nature experience which we, as an urban society, are rarely blessed to experience. While walking around the city, one often finds people trying to take refuge from the urban noise pollution by wearing headphones and immersing themselves in other gadgets. In stark contrast, the keynote sounds of the landscape — whistling breeze, sounds of crickets and birds chirping, hum of insects and susurrate of leaves along the tall trees — collectively creating an ambient experience.
Second, the background “music” of the soundscape allows for reduced listening while being plugged-out and experience the harmony of nature’s sounds. You must take a telephonic approach to the soundscape of this conducive environment as the background “music” helps to get away from any distractions (inner as well as outer) and really allows to concentrate at the task in hand. Further, the spatial signature of this sound prompts me to consider it as a POV sound that has strategically benches placed to have the best sound experience cut off from the hustling life of metropolitan Atlanta. The pitch and rate of the voices is just perfect to match with the rhythm of our breath and heart beats. It seems that we are intimately bound to mother nature by a unique ethereal connection.
Research results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers – NYT
As Henry Derozio experienced the bliss of nature under moonlight, you’re sure to find a similar but unique experience at this not so often visited place on campus. Scientifically speaking, the American Psychological Association certainly would support this perfect study spot. I’m glad to suggest you the perfect outdoor study spot when you don’t want yourself to be surrounded by many people.