Oops. This post was not on the drafts I store in the back corners of my brain.

And only after typing a first title (because all my posts need titles first) (well after I search for the photo) of “Sound Around” did my neurons flip on the 60’s vintage Buffalo Springfield track. Plus adding the hashtag in knocked me into ZZTop territory.

Does anyone even need my play by play blog analysis?

I got spun down this read reading a recent mailed message from the Middlebury College DLINQ Digital Detox series, number nine being DD 5.9: Fighter Jets and Tritones: We Can Hear it, But Are We Listening? by Joe Antonelli (I am 99% sure I remember Joe from my NMC days, maybe even in Second Life, you remember the last metaverse revolution?).

Joe opens with words that evoke his audio landscape. I can hear it without having to hear it:

There is a satisfying crunch when my boot makes its way through the puffy powder down to the pack, marking each step through the woods. The metallic tags jingle on my dog’s collar as she hops over a stick poking out of the new-fallen snow. We both turn quickly to look behind us when the wind elicits a loud pop from the frozen bark of the dormant gray birch. A half a mile away there is the constant whir of early traffic, connecting all of the sounds of the winter morning walk. The environment is different than in past years; it is missing the high-pitched static-like noise from the needles of the three large pine trees on the corner. We had them taken out because they were close to falling over.


And he continues to write about the impacts of his own audio landscape, now infiltrated by fighter planes that frequently fly over his house (and his Zoom meetings). He makes a connection I had not thought of– when we think of audio in zoom, it’s usually the ferfluffle of mics being on or off, not it’s own audioscape.

It tends to imply we are in one “room” together, but we are not, it is 25, 30 rooms, clicking in and out, but never really creating the sounds or feel of being in the same room.

It’s unmodulated.

In the digital landscape, Zoom has had a big impact on my awareness of sound in the past few years. Whether it is a one-on-one conversation, a small group, or a large gathering of digital boxes, I am constantly aware that we are not all in the same room. I can hear differences in the attendees’ environments based on their choices of computer, mic, headset, and the placement of their bodies relative to the equipment. It leaves me mentally reaching for the eq to turn up the articulation, turn down the reverb, and reset the tempo as Zoom catches up from a delayed feed


I’ve always appreciated the sound of not no sound, but being in places that lack human generated sounds. This was true of my time spent walking in the woods where I lived before in northern Arizona and now here in the wide open spaces of Saskatchewan.

Cori and I chose this acreage we moved into almost a year ago largely because of the lack of sounds from trains and the highway we could hear in the first house we lived in. The trees that line the property help dampen it, I am fairly sure. When we looked at it a year ago November, we stopped on the road outside to hear what we could not hear… transportation sounds although there are times like today, with snow, or perhaps other atmospheric condition where we sometimes still hear the trains.

I even imagined sometimes on my walks in the vast areas of Coconino Forest, what if some created a map that indicated all areas where there was no human sound detectable (or below some low decibel threshold). I’d love to see the map of Land Devoid of Human Made Sounds. This came to mind reading the suggested actions added to this post, e.g.

Record the sound of your environment outside. Listen back to the recording and consider how much of the sound is created by nature, and how much is man-made.

I am not quite finding them right now, but I am pretty sure in teaching audio I asked participants to notice ambient sounds, maybe it for DS106 (here is a Daily Create) or maybe the UDG Agora project (ah it as a listening exercise as an intro to audio).

The sounds of our spaces subtly set the stage for doing audio or video storytelling. Right now I hear the muffled roar of the wind outside, an occasional thunk of a roof shingle, the ongoing gurgling of the radiator, the gentle tapping of Cori typing on a keyboard. If I was to record a scene taking place here, and only used voices, the lack of environmental sounds would make it feel artificial.

That’s why in my podcasting, I don’t mind if people are in a public space, or their pets make sounds, those are all part of real audio landscapes, we do not live in sound studios. I go back long ago in learning/teaching audio, from the great Scottlo, Scott Lockman, the way he would audio narrate his walks around the streets of Tokyo. He would leave gaps where he was not talking, but the listener to hear cars, street vendors, kids in the park. These sounds create real spaces for the listener.

This suggestion appended Joe’s piece jumps out as a nifty challenge to toss into the DS106 Daily Create

Take a moment to pick out a sound in your environment. Hum with it, then try to harmonize with it. Record your humming and consider yourself a collaborative songwriter.


But the real rabbit hole opener was the suggested “reading” to listen to forest sounds at tree.fm – this was an amazing find!

Clicking that button serves up a random audio scape of a forest from somewhere around the world… I ended up in Ghana. Each one provides a map link and an Unsplash image — I’d like maybe if they gave photo credit (yes I know they do not have tom but it’s nice). I inspected source, noted the image file name, and found the image on Unsplash. It was taken in Ghana, and I will hope it was taken in the forest where the sounds came from.

And the sounds are all licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA) and are derived from a crowd sourced project Sounds of the Forest and it is open to anyone to contribute new forest sounds.

I did come up with a DS106 Daily Create based on this, but you have to wait until February 11 to be able to see it (because it is a scheduled post, that link now is to Room 404).

I ended up straying a bit from this Detox topic, but then again, maybe not. It got me thinking about audio again as an environmental space and brought me one of those Wunderkammer type web sites that I would maybe never have seen otherwise.

Thanks DLING for sounding this out!

Featured Image: More or less a random choice of my flickr images searched for “sound” – I seem to have many of these Harmon Kardon Soundstix.

Holy Sound
Holy Sound flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Tineke. It’s one of my greatest joys when following one link (to read Joe’s post) sent me skittering elsewhere out of curiosity. I have come across a few variations of crowdsourcing ambient sounds on a map.

      It also reminded me a bit of Radio Garden where you can tune into radio stations around the world http://radio.garden/ or this fun one that combines dashboard video and radio stations https://driveandlisten.herokuapp.com/

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