Posted August 13, 2013 by Em Ramser in Products & Tech
 
 

What Does Wikipedia Sound Like?

Listen-to-Wikipedia-Body

Music! Pretty relaxing music at that. An open source project called Listen to Wikipedia is using the edits made to Wikipedia articles to generate sounds.

The project turns additions to articles into bell-rings and subtractions from them into guitar strumming. The pitch changes based on the size of each edit. The combination of all the edits makes a really soothing music, kind of like something you might hear during a meditation class or massage. It’s really relaxing. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this. Just saying, you should listen as you read. You’ll be glad you did.

At the top of the screen is a constantly changing graphic. With each edit, circles appear. Green circles represent anonymous edits, purple circles show edits by bots and white ones are the edits made by registered users. When I watched/listened I saw mostly white circles, so it seems like a majority of the edits are made by registered users. As new users join the site, they get a special welcome message at the top of the page.

Listen-to-Wikipedia-Circles

Underneath the graphic, it lists the number of edits made per minute. The count’s currently at 105 on my page, which is a lot of edits if you think about it. It also shows who made the edits, what they edited and what language they did it in. It’s fun to watch all the random things people update. For instance, some unregistered user just added 164 bytes of information to Sino-American relations (a page all about the relationship of China and the US). You can also choose which of Wikipedia’s languages you want to show up and you can choose whether or not to hide user announcements or article titles.

The project was written by Stephen laPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi. They’re also known for creating the Wikipedia Recent Changes, a realtime map of updates made to Wikipedia by unregistered users.

The map sadly can only update using information from undregistered users which make up only 15% of average contributions because when an unregistered user edits Wikipedia, he or she is identified by his or her IP address which shows their location. Only around 15% of the contributions to the English Wikipedia are from unregistered users. The registered users are not identified by IP addresses, though, so they can’t be used for the map.

The “Listen to Wikipedia” project doesn’t require the user’s location so they can use data from registered and unregistered users and bots. It gets it’s data as broadcast by Wikimon. You can watch all the edits instead of just a handful (and listen to them!).

What do you guys think of “Listen to Wikipedia”? Do you enjoy it’s soothing melody as much as I do? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, @ChickadeePoems.


Em Ramser

 
The world is filled with many strange things, and Emily enjoys finding out about them by writing. Her daily habits including writing, browsing webcomics, more writing, a cup of coffee, editing and Magic the Gathering tournaments (she runs a blue/black mill deck). Writing is her life (except for her Dr. Who breaks). She is currently pursuing a degree in English and Creative Writing at Salem College.