Bookmarked UK National Parks Sound Map (
We are putting together a Google Earth Web sound map for UK National Parks. We are a group of researchers, passionate about listening and about how we, as human beings, relate to the sounds around us in our daily lives.

Another interesting audio project. Reminds me of the UK SoundMap from a few years ago. The map itself seems to be lost:( I blogged about that UK Sound Map and joined in with a few boos.

I loved the way the UK Sound Map project allowed anyone to join in by recording an Audioboo and tagging it.

The National Parks Sound Map is a bit more manual, you upload a sound and fill in a form. I just added one to see how it works.

Ifttt Audioboo Dropbox

Just discoverd a nice IFTTT Recipe: ifttt / Recuperating the mp3 files from an audioboo RSS feed, This recipe will collect the mp3 files of an audioboo RSS feed and put them into a dropbox folder, it allows you to name the folder from item on the feed. I set it up for the boos tagged edutalk that we gather and post to EDUtalk. I’ve now got a local backup mechanisim.

Cleaver stuff, I wish, and have feature requested, that IFTTT could get enclosures from RSS feeds, but this is a great workaround for backing up audioboos.

dropbox of boos

I am also wondering how this could be combined with Wappwolf.

The daily create from today/yesterday was Create an audio of two sounds not normally heard together. I took two sounds that I had recorded for the UK Sound Map on Audio Boo. The result is:

While I don’t think the result is particularly creative or interesting I though the workflow was worth recording.

  1. Easiest way to download the mp3s from AudioBoo was to switch to the RSS feed in safari and right click the MP3 link and choose save as.
  2. Open One file in audacity.
  3. Import other file with File -> Import ->Audio…
  4. Fade out the first sound, as the second was so quiet in comparison I just left it in place. Deleted the section of the first track after the fade.

Busker to Beach Audacity 440

Bonus Image Merge

As Both AudioBoo, the source of the sounds and SoundCloud, where we were to publish the results, allow you to add a photo I thought it might be interesting to create an image fade to go with the audio.

Here is the recipe I used:

Opacity Gradient

  1. Open first AudioBoo page in Safari, view the larger image.
  2. Drag image onto FireWorks on the dock.
  3. Open second image and drag onto the first image in fireWorks
  4. Drag a rect in fireworks over the second image.
  5. Make it white and give it an opacity gradient.
  6. Select the gradient Layer & the Image below.
  7. Modify Menu->Mask -> Group as Mask
  8. Adjust the opacity of the masked image so that the image below shines through.

Busker to Beach Firworks 440

The whole process was pretty quick which is quite important as I try to keep up with the daily create.

River Tales

I am listening so some great pupil podcasts on Mr O’D’s class posterous pupils take on the role of a river and tell their life story:
Rachael does Rivers and
Kyle and the Nile for example. They show, in my opinion, the power of mashing up subjects and reinforce for me the value of podcasting and the voice.

Regular Gems

The User Outcomes section of Doug’s new Synechism Ltd. blog is turning up some nice stuff, this week’s gem for mac users is One Thing Well A weblog about simple, useful software.

UK Sound Map

I didn’t realise that the great UK Sound Map project was limited to a year and read:

The final date for uploads to the UK Soundmap is Friday 24 June, 2011. No new recordings will be added after then, but the UK Soundmap will remain online and you’ll still be able to listen to its collection of sounds.

I really meant to add a boo from work yesterday but got caught up in other things. There is a fair racket as the school, behind which I work, is being renovated. I had a good time contributing to the map and felt quite sad to learn it had finished. Visit the SoundMap and enjoy listening to sounds.

Listening to more podcasts

I’ve been listening to more podcasts recently thanks to Instacast. I’ve removed podcasts from the iPod app of my phone and don’t sync them via itunes anymore. Instacast allows you to build subscriptions (I imported from the iPod app before stopping the sync) and download episodes without being tied to a computer in a much simpler way than the ipod app. I can now sync my podcasts at the office before the drive home, rather than noticing that I had forgotten to sync my phone from my computer at home.

Instacast allows you to see the episodes you have downloaded, and also stream new ones. This can lead to a hammering of your data allowance.

I am presuming that with iOS 5 that apple will have some sort of similar setup too. It is certainly the way I want to go with mobile stuff.

The interface of instacast is nice, very minimal, although the text is a wee bit too small for my eyes at any distance. Well worth £1.19 even if Applce come up with something as good in iOS 5.

Islay high School

Joe Wilson blogs about Islay High School a reminder of all the great work going on there over the past few years. Good to be reminded that it is not the tech:

Beyond the technology they timetable 3rd to 6th year together – which leads to a great community feel in the senior school. This allows for personalised timetables over 3 or 4 years – this gives learners a large range of academic and vocational options and allows some to really stretch themselves – a few 5th years have achieved Advanced Highers.

On Friday evening I went along to the evening presentation and discussion part of this event. There had been an afternoon training workshop on the practicalities of field recording run by the evenings presenters which was limited in numbers. My attention to the event had been aroused by a tweet from @scottishmusic I guess because I post the odd recording to the UK Sound Map. The evening was a little bit different from the educational conference/teachmeet meetings that I am more likely to be found at but I am really glad I went.

Tim Nunn

The first presentation was by theatre maker Tim Nunn of the company Reeling & Writhing (404 Archive link). He spoke about his work in progress Formel, inspired by Chaucer’s Assembly of Fowls the play uses field recordings extensively. Tim spoke about how he wrote the play working back and forward between text & field recording each affecting the other. A lot of the sound was recorded on Islay and he played us fragments of a force 10 gale and rooks mobbing an eagle. Here is a taste of the play I found on the Formel page

‘Formel’ by Tim Nunn, trailer by timjnunn

Tim mentioned RJ McConnell (site gone, archive link) as the person behind the sound of the play, whose blog will take you in other interesting aural directions

Formel has had a couple of preview performances and is due to be on tour at he end of this year or the start of the next (as far as I picked up) and is certainly something I would like to go along to.

Timothy Cooper

Next we heard from Timothy Cooper Timothy let us here kaktos the sounds of this were made by plucking of cactus spines. He showed us Postcards from blast beach which featured photos by his father and sounds recorded and edited by Timothy. A quick google found the video on My Space.

Next he played Skate ‘n’ Shuttle/Roll and Smash:

Skate n Shuttle/Roll and Smash by tim_bo

As someone who is as musical as a turnip I can’t really comment on the work, other than to say I enjoyed listening to it. The Blast Beach images & sound was interesting in being a very much polished combination of photos and edited found sound. As someone who takes phone photos and records the odd sound when out and about it shows where the idea can go give a deal of talent in photography & music.

Ian Rawes

Ian Rawes spoke about several sound map mashups. Starting with his own London Sound Survey which features London maps, ambient sound recordings, sound maps, local history & London wildlife. This is a site to get lost in, the quote on the front page Perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive approach to sound mapping I’ve yet to see . . . an all-around wonderful site! (from Jim Cummings, Acoustic Ecology Institute) rather understates it! Ian is the Vault Keeper at the British Library sound archive (I think). Ian briefly showed us round the London Sound Survey playing recording of a street preacher (there are quite a few) and a Common Pipistrelle bat recorded with a Magenta heterodyne bat detector set to 45 kHz and Edirol R09-Hr digital recorder which gives you an idea of the range of the site if not the depth. He also showed us the London map with present-day streetmaps, historical maps and sound recordings.

Ian is also the person behind the UK Sound Map , I’ve blogged about this before and contributed a few boos to the map. what I love about the project is the fact that it is open to anybody to contribute, it is easy to do so and it mashes maps & sound.

We then saw the Acoustic map from 12 Gates to the City The acoustic map is an ever-growing collection of 1 to 5 minute sound recordings embedded on a world map at the exact location of each recording. created by Jonathan Prior, an Edinburgh-based creative researcher, who was sitting in the audience. Johnathan’s map is interesting because it uses UMapper rather than google maps, it looks and sounds good. We heard the underwater recording of periwinkles grazing on algae which sound nothing like you would expect. It looks as if there is a lot of interesting stuff on 12 Gates to the City.

The Inukjuak Sound Map is another map sound mashup this time created by Montreal sound artist Nimalan Yoganathan. The map has cultural and natural sounds, some with images. It uses google maps. We also watched Charles Veasey’s Hmsg Spiral Map which I had seen before, but it was interesting watching with other people on a large screen rather than in one’s own home with multiple on and offline distractions. The Hmsg project is a flash/video/google maps mashup.

One of the main impressions I got from the event was the quality of the audience’s listening, this made the evening quite quiet and contemplative, quite different from, say, a TeachMeet or educational tech event. I had not taken a laptop or ipad to take notes, but if I had I would not have used them, I didn’t take any photos either although I had a phone with me. In googling the links for this post I re read Inukjuak Sound Map and Hmsg Spiral Map on Ian’s London Sound Survey blog:

The Spiral Map looks and sounds very impressive as it progresses smoothly through its 30 different sound recordings and videos. Most of the videos have very little motion in them and much more action is heard than seen. It’s a great way to set a balance between the ravenous eye and the patient ear.

Educational Takeaway

I came away straight after the event, an empty stomach and dinner waiting kept me from the pub, with open ears, walking to the train station listening more than usual. At the station I was surprised that the announcement and the clicking and clacking of the high heeled shoes were louder than the train.

I’ve also been thinking of how this could relate to the classroom. Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

  • I’ve often used photos and sometimes video as stimulation for creative writing, following Tim Nunn we could add recordings as a great stimulus.
    Children recording sounds from a trip as well as taking photos and videos could be an powerful addition to stimulate writing and discussion back in the classroom. I’ve also had children record poetry with backing music, perhaps found sound could be used as well.
  • I’ve often involved pupils in creating movies from still pictures adding their voice with iMovie. It could be really interesting to add recordings Timothy Cooper style I think some children could be excited in working this way.
  • I’ve been building picture and gps map mashups for a while now, occasionally incorporating audio and recently mapped my boos this could easily be adapted for a school trip or for a collection of schools to work together. Or perhaps schools could contribute to UKSM itself. Playground sounds across an authority or skipping songs could be a starter.


In the afternoon workshop there had, I think, been a lot more technical information. Ian provides a Budget binaural stereo microphones guide on London Sound Survey. A lot of the Field Recording crowd seem to know what they are talking about kit wise, I was somewhat relieved when Ian appropriated the Best Camera quote: The best microphone is the one you have with you.

In talking about UMapper, Ian said it was in some ways easier to use than google maps. This is probably right, but I like the way google maps can be use to auto update, using the api, so that things are added without automatically, without crafting

More Takeway

Finally what I’d take away was the quality of listening shown by the audience & presenters. The time taken. Timothy Cooper’s Blast beach gave plenty of time to look at the images: audio can be slower. I am thinking again about Ian Rawes’ “the ravenous eye and the patient ear”, Tim Nunn’s theatre performances in the dark.

From the above you can see I’ve gathered a great number of links, sites not only to visit but to revisit. It is not often you get the chance to hear periwinkles eating.

Great conference, here is the official blog: ISRU Conference 2011 where I believe all the slides and video of the keynotes will appear in time. The tweets: and Flickr: The ISRU11 Pool

A very interesting day with lots of food for thought. I posted a couple of Boos when I got home.


And the second boo, apologies for the speed and ems


Boos on map

I love Audioboo. We use it as one of the ways to publish to and I’ve joined in tagging some boos uksm for the UK Sound Map project.

Audioboo must be one of the simplest ways to do audio podcasting and it has many nice features. One of the ones that interests me most is the fact that the RSS feed has geo information in it, that is the location that the boo was recorded in (users can I believe turn this off). I have played about with the google maps api in simple ways (eg some walks) and really like the ability to tell a story in space as well as time.

Yesterday I though I’d have a look at the Audio Boo RSS feed (atom really) and see if I could do something similar.

Since google maps support GEORSS I though I’d give that a try first, pasting my audioboo feed into the search box on google maps give me this map which shows the boos without the audio players (no flash support).

I had forgotten about the audioboo api so just recycled some of my old walks stuff

I made a few Adjustments, I usually use magpie RSS Reader for RSS parsing, but I could not get it to work for the tag, due, I expect, to the colon. I therefore switched to the XMLParser provided by Adam A Flynn. The webpage explains that it can manage tags with dashes and colons but I am not sure how to as it is not in the docs yet (As far as I know). I just replaced georss:point with georsspoint and got on with it. The page is pretty much a mess of php and javascript but it works. I took the lazy way out to put audio players in the Google Map info bubbles, I used the html5 audio tag. That means that pre html5 browsers will not see it but this is not vital stuff. On the walk maps I’ve used an flash player so that is doable too.

I am caching the rss feed from AudioBoo so updates might not appear. It would be easy enough to set this up so that the page would load boos from a user or tag in the url /boo.php?tag=thetag or /boo.php?user=user too, but might effect my bandwidth.

Gmap Icon Shadow

The other interesting thing I found was Shadowmaker a webpage that makes shadows for google map icons which is a nice touch. On the walk maps I never got round to doing that. Shadowmaker makes it so easy that I could not avoid it.

Anyway I think this would be a really nice way to podcast a school trip, once a page like this is in place it will reflect any updates to AudioBoo. You could also make one that would map a boos that were tagged with a particular tag although I don’t think AudioBoo had feeds for tags from a particular user?

I’d love to hear from anyone with a class or school interested in a project like this and lend a hand.

If you are interested in learning about custom google maps I’d recommend the Google Maps API Tutorial.

An interesting crowd sourced data project UK Sound Map answers the question: ‘What does Britain sound like?’

All you do is record some sound with Audioboo and tag it uksm the boos are moderated and added to the The UK SoundMap. This, of course, reminds me of our EDUtalk project.

Discussing social media and this sort of thing with my daughter Christine we recorded a quick boo of the rather quiet traffic outside our flat.


This could be a nice classroom activity for iPhone equipped teachers and I intend giving it a wee try next time I am working with a class, perhaps a playtime recording would be a good idea.