Aside from the fact that we have Big Brother, deadlines, diets and one hundred different ways to get in touch with people electronically in order to tell them what a crazy fool they were last night, the one thing that distinguishes us modern folks from our ancestors is noise. We’re surrounded by it from the minute we get up (I need about five different electronic alarms to wake me up), and the working day is no exception.
At UKFast towers some of that noise is Rich whistling, or Chris pretending to be a pirate. Over there sales and tech are on their phones, over here there’s the constant tapping of finger against key. Being in Manchester we’ve less a sound of the underground, more a gut-wobbling rumble of the overground as trams go past outside. None of this can really be brought to a stop (unless we tape up Rich’s mouth), and to tell the truth I think most of us like a little of background sound – myself especially – I hardly ever get the show on the road in the morning without plugging my brain into the iPod.
But there’s one source of noise I think that we in the office – and everyone outside of it too – could do without: that din that computers make. As the beasts get faster and faster their fans get louder and louder. We sit pretty near the office’s server rack and it’s like the constant roar of an angry ocean. My PC at home sounds like an asthmatic hoover – you can actually hear it through the ceiling if you go downstairs. Seems like some manufacturers are catching up – apparently a lot of the new Mac models, for instance, are somebody-somewhere-is-eating-a-Cadbury’s-Whisper-quiet – but far too many PCs still produce a wash of background sound that makes it a relief to turn them off. I love machines – in fact, I’m waiting for a terminator-style brutal machine uprising – but sometimes I wish they’d just shut up.