Saturday, August 13, 2005

Are You Even Listening To Me?

We've all been there before. You are trying to tell someone something important but for some reason it doesn't seem like the person on the other end is paying any attention to what you are saying. It could be the football game is on, they have company over or they are just not interested. Sure, we can't control other people's enthusiasm when they are listening to us. They can't always be as excited as we are. But, things may be changing.

Some MIT researchers are developing software called the "Jerk-O-Meter" for your cell phone that will analyze your conversations and tell you how you are coming across on the phone or if your audience is paying attention to you.

I believe a program like this that disassembles phone conversation and reads tone, pitch, speaking time and many other stats can actually become something like a biorhythm test. If you've ever taken one of those, it measures your heart-rate and creates a graph of what areas in your life you are doing well and sometimes gives you a lucky number. Putting a lot of faith in a measurement like that would change how we judge our relationships. I mean, how excited does Steven Wright (a very amazing yet monotone comedian) sound on stage? What if that is his level of enthusiasm and you are now judging that (call it Joviality Deficit Syndrome if you will) when talking to him? It seems like another way to judge relationships based on useless stats. Heck, I don't even like using the phone.

12 comments:

Moose said...

I try not to be on the phone any longer than I have to be. I wonder if this operates like a voice stress analyzer.

Lily said...

I can see how something like this may be useful in a business setting, but it's not something I would have much use for.

Fred said...

My kids never use the phone any more. With IM and text messaging, who needs it?

Teri said...

Is this post referring to me? I am starting to get a complex here.

LoraLoo said...

Personally, it sounds as effective as a "How to tell if your relationship will make it" test in Cosmo. Telephone conversations are impersonal enough without body language and eye contact - seems it would be hard to tell anything from them.

Miss Hobby said...

I have my own test for that. After the 5th absent minded 'uh huh', I'm pretty sure they're not interested.

Vavoom said...

I'm guessing that this instrument measures the gap between words. Anytime someone isn't paying attention I can always hear it in their voice when they respond... uhh huh... yeah... what... was... that... you... said?

Davydgrey said...

Ummm sorry Martin, did you post something, I wasn't paying attention.

New White Keds said...

Sounds a little like voluntary big brother to a certain extent to me. But then again, I am horrifially guilty of multi-tasking, so maybe I am trying to throw you off my track.

Men are (excuse the sweeping generalization) infamous if not famous for hating phone conversations. I think the divorce/break up rate would climb even higher if this thing were used to test the validity or verility of any relationship.

FantasticAlice said...

Now if they make one that fits on your person and can analyze conversations from person to person I think we will all be screwed.

Good article.

An80sNut said...

Great comments guys. Yeah, pretty scary that we are getting to the point that we rate our relationships according to what technology tells us. But then again, the Psychic Friends Network is still around.

Lucy Stern said...

You never know what is going on when you call someone. Maybe the baby is crying and they just want to sooth their child so they hurry you. Maybe they are frying some chicken and it is beginning to burn just as the phone rings. Maybe they just woke up and are trying to just hear what you are saying. I don't think that thing can be a true judge of why a person sounds like he does.