By Kirsten Nelson On April 16, 2009
There’s a new coffee shop in my hometown which was once a greenhouse. This is fairly obvious even to those who never knew of its former life, because attached to the little rectangular building there is a huge plastic dome constructed of alternating translucent green and white panels.
The first thought among many who endure the winters here is that the tropical, plant-filled dome provides an excellent summery escape. But they soon come to fear the creep. Lurking in the otherwise soothing curves of the space, there is a certain kind of evil. A gossip monger who will carry your secrets around the room and share them with strangers.
Readers of this magazine won’t be surprised by the “whispering gallery effect”, or “creep echo”, inherent to this supposedly cozy space. But to many patrons of the coffee shop, the experience has been deafening. Even low-voiced chatter goes booming across the room, rendering conversation unintelligible while it is broadcast for all to hear. Because so many whisperers were unaware of this effect and the fact that their privacy was being violated, the cafe owners have had to place warning placards on the tables in the dome.
The good thing about this dome is that it actually eliminates gossip. Patrons are less likely to indulge in a running critique of others’ wardrobe choices if their every syllable will be broadcast as if on a stadium scoreboard.
It’s possible that the more serene attributes of this space can be saved, however. It would be interesting if someone were to choose a
location tucked away amid the ferns and orchids and started broadcasting compliments and positive thoughts. The positive affirmations would arrive without qualification related to their mysterious source, but given enough sincerity, these comments could restore even the most shattered ego.
Even if it’s difficult to find a dome to tuck into and hope for some restorative chatter in these difficult times, the whisper gallery effect can help your work. Every day I talk to consultants and integrators who say that business is great, and they’ve got plenty more work in the pipeline. Obviously this is not true across the board, and some projects have been put on hold indefinitely. But we can’t let the cacophony of global doomsday reports block out the positive news being generated right here in our own neck of the woods. The compliments from reps, clients, and even your own personnel are aimed directly at your way of doing business, and they should not be ignored.
We at SCN are doing our part to be a good version of “creep” for this industry. Check out our website in the coming weeks for exclusive interviews with our readers about the real state of the business.