Future Tense

Wikipedia Edits Make Relaxing Music

The sound of edits.

Screencap from Listen to Wikipedia

It seems like Wikipedia editing involves a lot of drama, between eliminating promotional material, adding important facts, and cleaning up after someone adds “penis” to a bunch of entries about antique furniture. But the sound of Wikipedia is surprisingly mellow and relaxing.

Stephen LaPorte, legal counsel to the Wikimedia Foundation, and Mahmoud Hashemi, a developer at eBay, have a blog called {{Hatnote}}, where they post projects, especially ones related to Wikipedia. Their Listen to Wikipedia tool turns changes on the service into sounds. As the duo explains:


Bells indicate additions and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note. Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots. You may see announcements for new users as they join the site, punctuated by a string swell.

The music is really nice, but it’s also fun to watch which Wikipedia entries are being edited. I’ve been listening to the music for a few hours, but in just minutes of watching the visualization I saw edits on the Wikipedia entries for, among others, “proxy server,” “Meghan Trainor,” and “2014 FIFA World Cup.”

Originally posted over the summer, the project surfaced on Hacker News and Gizmodo today, probably because everyone needs some calming music to keep them going at work. And Listen to Wikipedia is open-source in case you ever want to build on it.