The Phone

It's what college is all about.

RECORD TIME: 20 days, 2 hours, 53 minutes, and 18 seconds without hanging up.

If you don't care about the two-hour hiatus (see UPDATE UPDATE below) or the second hang-up (see UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE below), then you can follow this:
The clock should be one hour more, but it is incorrect because of the "Fall-back" time warp. Actually, since there was the two hour break, it should only be one hour more. This is why I don't like math.

Final Count: 10*
8 Female, 2 Male

UPDATE!-- While preparing to test iChat A/V on Sunday October 23, 2003 at about 7:23 PM, I accidently let the FireWire cable touch the phone, only for a second. I soon heard the dreaded dial tone. The connection was terminated. It's been fun, and I think we all learned something about others and even ourselves. Until next time, this is Wysz, hanging up.

UPDATE UPDATE!-- Brendan couldn't handle the ending of this, so the phone is back online as of 9:20:03 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2003, after a hiatus of less than two hours.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!-- I went to test a DVD on Omar's player, and I found that the phone was no longer in the hallway. It was just sitting on the desk. I hung it up at 12:30 AM on Tuesday, November 11, 2003.

Hanging out in Bill, John, Omar, and Zach's suite one night, I called one of the rooms from the other, and spoke with the answering machine. I then told the residents that they could just leave the phones off the hook, and use it as an intercom system. When one party would lift the phone, someone in the other room could assume an English accent and say, "Room service," or—with a French accent—say, "Concierge." They decided not to implement my idea.

At 6:29:37 PM EST on October 6, 2003, I called Bill and John's extension from my dorm phone, and told him not to hang up. This was the beginning of an ongoing technological and social experiment. So far, we have not been disconnected.

At first, the phone stayed on Bill's desk, and was basically used as an intercom between the two rooms as well as an alternative to AIM chats. None of the suite's residents are interesting, so I told them that they should encourage any visitors to the room to pick up the phone. Unfortunately, their only visitors were people that I already know. To have fun with this experiment, I needed to talk to new people. I asked Bill to put me in the hall.

At first, the phone sat on the floor or hung from the doorknob. Nobody knew what to make of it, and I didn't hear from any strangers. I concluded that the residents of McCoy were boring, and demanded that Bill put me in the street. He was unable to comply with my request. In an attempt to attract visitors to the phone, Zach decided to advertise. He made a small sign and placed it next to the phone. After hearing about the sign, I sent him this picture to place near the sign:

Wysz looking at phone. Red/blue gradient background.

Brendan, a frequent visitor to the suite, saw the picture and was inspired to make an improved poster to advertise me, "the talent." He also figured out a way to hang the phone from the ceiling using a wire. This is the poster he created:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Pre-Meds and Engineers, Step right up and talk to the Amazing Wysz! The Wysz is an interesting creature, hardly ever emerging from his natural habitat in Building B, and usually only to screen movies or to gather food for the winter. You can get a glimpse into his fascinating life through this very phone. Go ahead, talk to him! If he's there, he'll certainly respond. Otherwise, try again later! [picture of Wysz holding phone]

The poster, along with the messages Zach left on other people's whiteboards, worked. Several curious passers-by have now spoken with me. It's been fun, but it is shocking how many people cannot understand the technical setup. It really is only a telephone.

This is what the current setup looks like, thanks to students of the enginnering program at Johns Hopkins:

Phone on wallWire on ceiling
Phone in hallway

One of the most frequently asked questions is, "Doesn't it cost anything?" I made the call from my campus extension to Bill's campus extension. Neither of us even have a phone account here, which means that we cannot call outside numbers. We can, however, use voicemail and call other extensions on the same campus for free.

Another common question is, "Do you just sit there and wait for someone to pick up the phone?" The answer is, "Yes, sort of." I leave the phone on my desk, with the volume switch at the maximum setting. It is not a speakerphone, but if someone speaks directly into Bill's phone, I can hear it from anywhere in my room. When I hear a voice, I simply pick up the phone and say, "Hello."

Since my phone is always off the hook, I cannot check my voicemail from my room. One night, I figured I should check it, so I used one of the phones on the outside of my building to call the voicemail extension. These outdoor phones are speakerphones, and they are LOUD. I think the entire upper quad heard me checking, but it was about 4 A.M. on a weekday, so I was the only person outside. I had no messages.

Want to know more? I have posted some conversation highlights in my blog.

Special thanks to Brendan Houle for adding some "secret sauce" to the counter code.
*The count indicates the number of strangers (people I haven't met previously) that I have spoken to during this phone connection.

Wysz's Blog (and links to his other stuff, too!)