Coffitivity is a website with a ten-minute, looping recording of ambient noise in a coffeeshop. According to a paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, background noise can have a positive effect on "creative cognition," which correlates roughly to creativity. As the classic creative-type white noise element is background noise from a coffeeshop, Coffitivity provides a recorded clip you can listen to wherever you want. (You can read a snippet of the paper investigating the intersection of noise and creativity here.) As writing blogposts about websites is, in a very loose sense, a creative task, I fired up Coffitivity while writing this post to see how it works.
12:30: I do not write well with distractions. I am wildly inefficient when working from home, because my home is full of fun. I used to write all of my college papers in my school's music library, because for two years it was under construction and the study areas were bare cement floors and walls. If there had been a literal prison cell with a desk and a chair, I'd have used that. But research suggests it might help, so here I am, trying it.
12:32: Sounds like a coffeeshop. There's a bunch of people chatting, some sliverware clinking together. I can't really hear any specific conversation--that's probably a good thing, since I'd obviously prefer to eavesdrop on strangers than do the work for which I am paid. Note: the website has cartoons with the word "EURIKA!" written on them. This is not how you spell "eureka" and it seems like somebody should have caught the typo? Or is it a reference I don't get?
12:35: Pretty sure I just heard a sheep. Or maybe someone imitating a sheep. In what kind of weird coffeeshop was this recorded? Is there a coffeeshop with a sheep in it somewhere? Where is this sheep, I want to drink coffee near it.
12:36: Talked to my friend Lindsey Weber, who is a very good entertainment blogger and often works from coffeeshops. She says: "There's nothing more depressing then being fooled into thinking that there's coffee nearby when there actually isn't."
12:37: I made myself a coffee. It was free. Already I'm saving money by listening to coffeeshop noises on a pair of headphones at my desk.
12:40: It just looped! And, like, not elegantly. Like I could totally tell when it looped. It's only 10 minutes, too; I think I would get in a habit of counting my days in 10-minute blocks, which seems stressful and not conducive to my creative cognition.
12:42: Got distracted and started looking at Wikipedia articles about sheep. Remembered that when I was a kid I thought goats and sheep were the same animal, just that goats were male and sheep were female. I'm not sure when I realized this wasn't true but it might have been around the first time I saw goat milk.
12:44: THERE'S THE SHEEP AGAIN! It comes in at around 4:00 if you guys are curious.
12:51: Starting to get kind of soothing! I work for 10 minutes and then listen for the sheep and then work for 10 more minutes with small breaks for wondering whether a coffeeshop with a sheep in it could be a successful business. I think probably it could, everyone loves sheep, right?
12:55: Nobody's asked me what I'm listening to, yet. I think I'd probably lie.
12:56: Is the spelling weird on the name of the service, too? Shouldn't it be "Coffeetivity"? Not that it's a great name anyway but like if you're combining "coffee" with "productivity" I'm not sure how you end up with "Coffitivity." It sounds like a service for building coffins more efficiently.
12:57: Gonna wrap up this post.
Conclusion: Actually not bad for productivity! Better than white noise, and better than music, which sometimes gives me trouble because I start typing the lyrics to whatever I'm listening to in the middle of posts about bionic kneecaps or whatever.
It's not clear how (or even if) Coffitivity will ever make money from this. And I wish the clip was longer--an hour or two would be preferable. But, I finished this post, so, I guess it works, at least a little!
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.