Hear That? Website Conveys the Sounds of Places

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Melding social media with geography is Udo Noll, whose online sound archive Radio Aporee: Maps boasts nearly 20,000 recordings tied to specific places.

Noll, a German media artist and applied scientist, created the website in 2006, as a repository for place-specific sounds in urban, rural, and natural environments. In the years since its creation, the site has become home to thousands of homemade recordings of people speaking, animals making their own noises, and nature being nature.

Contributors have uploaded various formats of sounds files, including WAV and MP3. Files have been published on the website under Creative Commons License. Files can, of course, be downloaded. Noll said that about 1,000 people had contributed the majority of the sounds.

The site is map-heavy and text-heavy, but the number of things users can do is quite small. Click on a place or a place name and the sound player launches right away. Sound files are not tiny snippets of a few seconds; rather, the files are long enough to give listeners an idea of the sense of the place in which the sounds were recorded but not long enough to be anything other than interesting.

An Android app is available. Android users who have location settings activated will be greeted by sounds near their location (if available).

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