Kacie Kinzer
Michael Rosenthal

Whisper Jars

Listen to the secret waiting in the jar, then share your own.


Narrative Lab

A whisper jar is a magical container in which people can whisper a story or secret. When someone opens the jar later on, the secret escapes for them to hear. Whoever hears the secret can then respond to what they have just heard, or come up with something new to whisper, and the cycle begins again.

The background research has primarily been the reading and in-class discussion from Douglas Rushkoff's Narrative Lab class. See the syllabus on his website for a full list of readings completed

Our target audience is a broad cross section of society. What is so unique about this project is that the broader the user base, the more engaging and interesting the resulting narrative string will become.

User Scenario
A user will approach one of the whisper jars and see a softly glowing LED at its heart, indicating that there is a message waiting to be played. the user picks up the jar, unscrews the lid, puts it to their ear, and suddenly hears the voice of a stranger revealing an intimate secret. When the voice stops, the user then puts the jar to their lips and reveals their own secret into the saftey of the jar. when they are done, they screw the lid shut, and put the jar back on the shelf.

the whisper jar project consists of the jar contents, and the back end. the jar contents (identical in each jar) are comprised of a small omni microphone hooked up to a speaker, let, and switch circuit. Audio is recorded "behind the scenes" by a computer running maxmsp. maxmsp records the audio and prepares it for playback.

We learned that a very simple idea can necessitate a whole mess of code, circuitry, and soldering. I guess, to be fair, we probably learned that last year. but we seemed to have forgotten.