Wake up to the sound of tweets in the morning with The Listening Machine

Wake up to the sound of tweets in the morning with The Listening Machine

If you fancy waking up to the sound of the world in 140 characters? Then you will be delighted to know that there’s a way to translate tweets into sound for your own dawn chorus.

Clo Willaerts at the brilliant bnox site notes that twitter in sound translates in weirdly wonderful new ways that could emulate morning activity by our feathered friends as well as our digital ones.

The Listening Machine is an automated system that creates a continuous soundscape based on the activity of 500 Twitter users around the UK. Their conversations, thoughts and feelings are translated into musical patters in real time and listeners can tune in through any web-connected device.

Tweet sentiments

The twittering 500 have been selected proportionally from eight different fields: arts, business, education, health, politics, science, sport and technology. Other parts of the group are chosen at random.

When any of these people posts a status update, the machine analyses its properties in terms of both sound and meaning, and generates music based upon it. The system uses techniques like natural language processing and machine learning to categorise each tweet.

It’s pretty clever programming where the sentiment is identified via emotive terms and classification is centered on the the topic of the tweet and identified using an archive from the BBC News Website.

The rhythm and intonation, taken from the vowel sounds and patterns in each tweet are extracted to turn word sequences into music.

By looking at the overall behavioural trends, The Listening Machine can make measurements of the collective as a whole, which are displayed on gauges. If the overall activity within the “sports” classification is high, its dial will indicate as such.

Created by created by Daniel Jones, doctoral researcher at Golsmiths, composer and cellist, Peter Gregson and musicians from Britten Sinfonia. The Listening Machine will be live from May until October 2012 on The Space, the new on-demand digital arts channel from the BBC and Arts Council England.

The process is certainly very cool but the music produced might not be something you can easily sing along to. The piece is set to evolve over time, adjusting its responses to social patterns and generating new musical output, so it’s worth checking back to see how things have changed.

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