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‘Listen to Wikipedia’ turns article edits into chill ambient sounds

‘Listen to Wikipedia’ turns article edits into chill ambient sounds

While your professor might have a personal vendetta against it, you gotta admit: Wikipedia is pretty cool. It’s free, it’s vast and it’s a living creature that changes literally every second. And if you want to see its enormity, one site has turned live Wikipedia edits into soothing ambient sounds.

Created by developers Mahmoud Hashemi and Stephen LaPorte of design studio Hatnote, “Listen to Wikipedia” is the living embodiment of the online encyclopedia’s constant edits. Each time a new change is encoded into the site, a new sound enters the soundscape. Bells are additions, while string plucks are subtractions. The bigger the edit, the lower the sound. 

A screenshot of Listen to Wikipedia, featuring circles of varying sizes representing edits in Wikipedia

The machinery behind it is simple enough. The site’s developers were inspired by BitListen, which is the Bitcoin version of Listen to Wikipedia—it turns every transaction into a sound. Listen to Wikipedia, on the other hand, receives edit updates through a feed, which are then translated into sounds thanks to a software called Sound exChange.

Try out Listen to Wikipedia for yourself. Because if you can’t use Wikipedia as a source, you can at least set it as the backdrop to you crying into your annotated bibliography. Maybe that’s what matters.

(But if Wikipedia’s not your thing, there are tons of other places you can get your ambient sounds from—like simulated bars, forest sounds or Grimes’ lullabies for robot-named babies.)

Read more:
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Art by Yel Sayo


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