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Surrender to the soothing sounds of Wikipedia

An open-source project called Listen to Wikipedia turns edits to the crowdsourced encyclopedia into a soporific audio experience.

Screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

What does Wikipedia sound like? That might seem like the opening line of a joke told at South by Southwest, but it's actually the basis of a new open-source project that turns Wikipedia edits into audio and animations.

Listen to Wikipedia mines data from Wikipedia's recent changes feed, turning additions into bells and subtractions into guitar strumming. The resulting audio, somewhat surprisingly, makes for the kind of soothing soundscape you might hear during a meditation class or massage. (NSFW if you want to stay awake.) The pitch changes according to the size of the edit.

On the visual side of things, green circles represent anonymous edits, while purple circles indicate edits by bots and white circles connote edits by registered users. The size of the overlapping circles depends on the amount of edits to an article. As new users join the site, they get a welcome message at the top of the ever-changing graphic, and a tally of edits per minute appears at the bottom. (At last glance, it was hitting 115.)

"There's something reassuring about knowing that every user makes a noise, every edit has a voice in the roar," creators Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi say on the site for L2W. (That's the project's rap name.)

LaPorte and Hashemi built Listen to Wikipedia using D3 and HowlerJS, and cite as their inspiration Listen to Bitcoin, a digital project by Maximillian Laumeister that floats visualizations of Bitcoin transactions.

Wikipedia, a constantly shifting resource that hasn't been free of rancor and controversy, has never been so calming.

(Via The Verge)