Bintel Vox (Bundle of Voices)

Klara Palotai
Stefanie Wuschitz
Tonio jungho Jung

Bintel Vox (Bundle of Voices) is a prototype for interactive applications for Bluetooth enabled mobile phones: listen to voices of the past asking you for directions at a crossroad of their lives in early 20th century New York and leave a message for them with your advice.


Classes Mobile Me(dia)

Bintel Vox is a prototype for an interactive application for Bluetooth enabled mobile phones. Bintel Vox, "bundle of voices", is a fantasy word based on Yiddish and Latin.

Listen to voices of the past asking you for directions. The real life owners of these voices are at a crossroad of their lives in early 20th century New York, often in emotional distress. Listen to them and get immersed in their stories. Follow the prompts on your cell phone to leave a message with your advice. Voicemails are collected on the bintelvox.com website.

We invite people to use our application for bluetooth enabled cell phones at historically charged locations on the Lower East Side. Our goal is to provide a mobile educational tool and prompt playful empathy with voices of the past.

The original "Bintel Brief" letters, sent to the editor of the Jewish Daily Forward from 1906, are dated documents. The texts reflect personal and social problems, religious, political and cultural difficulties of new immigrants in the early 20th century. While the content of these letters may seem strange for today's listeners, with their tone of intimacy they can still reach out and connect with listeners of our time.

This project takes its inspiration from the "Bintel Brief", Yiddish for "bundle of letters". The letters, addressed to the editor of The Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish-language newspaper founded in 1897, were published from 1906.

The paper's founder and editor, Abraham Cahan, would answer back with practical advice. "Bintel Brief", this question and answer column quickly became one of the most popular features of the paper.

'People often needed the opportunity to be able to pour out their
heavy-laden hearts. Among our immigrant masses this need was very
marked. Thousands of people, torn from their homes and their loved
ones, were lonely soul thirsted for expression, who wanted to hear
an opinion, who wanted advice in solving their weighty problems. The
"Bintel Brief" created just this opportunity.'
- reflects Abraham Cahan in his memoirs.

Our project, Bindel Vox, concentrates on the early period of this column, between 1906 and the 1920s. The time frame coincides with the big migration wave from Europe; between 1898 and 1920 more than 15 million foreigners landed on America's shore. Most of them originated from Eastern and Southern Europe. New York absorbed a large percentage of them and in their first years of struggle these immigrants often found homes in the tenement buildings of the Lower East Side.Our project concentrates on the newly arrived Jewish immigrants almost 100 years ago.

Tourists, school groups, individuals interested in the past, people who have a little time to play in New York.

User Scenario
User reads about project and gets familiar w/historical background. gets interested to learn more and participate. Watches instructional video about use of application. Gives permission to "Bintel Vox" crew to install application on her/his cell phone. User listens to audio file, and if he/she chooses so, clicks on "leave voice message", gets connected to the asterix server's database and leaves voicemail message. Voice mails are collected on the Bintel Vox website and anyone with an internet connection can visit the site and listen to voices of the past and user messages. Interaction only happens via cell phone.

Technical requirements for users: Bluetooth enabled cell phone. The "Bintel Vox" application is transferred from a Nokia 80 to another cell phone via bluetooth pairing of the two devices.