In progress!

We’ve got about 90 people signed up to listen to sounds now, and have recorded nearly 200 separate visits where people have listened to sounds. Thanks to everyone for taking part so far! We have got some feedback that the sounds are either too similar or a lot of white noise, though some have noted that a few of the sounds really stand out. As these are chosen more often the less relevant ones will start to disappear! This is starting to happen for one of the places in the study, for which there have been a few more participants. So please do continue to come back and listen again, even if you’ve not had a reminder email in a while.

Volunteers wanted!

We are looking for people to visit our web page, listen to a few groups of sounds, and vote on the ones that remind them most of one of the places. Each visit should take around 7ish minutes, and ideally you’d come back to the page a few times over the next 2-3 months.

The page can be found here. The places being studied are Stirling City Centre, Stirling University Campus, Aberdeen City Centre and Aberdeen University Campus. If you are familiar with at least one of these places and can spare a few minutes, please sign up and start listening to the sounds we’ve captured. At the start of this work, the sounds will seem fairly random and not necessarily good matches for the places. The idea is that as more people participate over the next couple of months, they will slowly gravitate towards something the really fits each of the places.

Thanks! Please share this with anyone you think appropriate.

Launching

An exciting day: we are ready to launch! The software platform is now ready and can be accessed at https://tiny.cc/crowdsound . If you know either Aberdeen or Stirling, please sign up and start listening to the sounds we’ve captured. At the start of this work, the sounds will seem fairly random and not necessarily good matches for the places. The idea is that as more people participate, they will slowly gravitate towards something the really fits each of the places.

What’s the project about?

What is the “sound” of your workplace? Your home town? Your favourite place to holiday? What memories does that sound trigger? How does it make you feel? How do these sounds match those that other people associate with these places? This project is bringing together research in several disciplines to find collective sounds of places, trying to make some sense of these questions.

We can look at this as an optimisation problem. Trying to find the combination of sounds that most closely match those that a group of people associate with a given place. We are using Evolutionary Algorithms (a nice explainer can be found here) to combine short sound recordings into the sounds for places, using feedback from real people via the web to drive the optimisation process.

At the end, we should have some collective sounds for a few selected places around Scotland. the exciting part is that we really have no idea yet what these will be like!

We’re especially looking for people in Aberdeen and Stirling to participate, starting around August this year and running for a couple of months from then. If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch.

Launch meeting

Our team assembled at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 13 January to kick off the project. We discussed the collection of sound samples over the coming months, design of the platform and experiments, and what we hope to learn from the work. We also considered possible long-term projects that might follow on.

Sandy Brownlee, Jamie Lawson, Szu-Han Wan, Stella Chan (Suk-Jun Kim was unable to join us; Pete Stollery joined by Skype)