What would YOUR neighborhood sound like?

Photo courtesy of Nicola Hume
This design concept from UK designer Nicola Hume is called "Listen Here," and would make it so that locals could share the sounds of their hometown. The idea is that you could put wireless microphones around your favorite neighborhood locations, and visitors could listen to them via a public kiosk. The sounds would be mapped — so visitors could listen in, and then head off to go experience the sounds first-hand.

( Laughing Squid)

It's a neat concept, but my question is this: What would YOUR neighborhood sound like?

  1. Oh man. In my nieghborhood you'd hear people yelling in Spanish, maybe a gun shot or two, and dogs barking. I don't think anyone wold want to come join the excitement.

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    • heh, mine's pretty much the same, minus the Spanish and plus a lot more dogs barking. oh, and the city helicopter, which likes to hover overhead around 2am every day. yay! ugh.

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  2. West Hollywood: Traffic, helicopters hovering over criminals and celebrities alike, the sirens from the fire station next door, all the dogs in my building howling at said sirens, old Russian couples arguing, young gay men talking shit, homeless people fighting, and Pleasure Chest customers giggling excitedly as they walk to their cars with their sexy goods. Then, come 2am, there's the drunken "whoo hoo-ers" drunkenly whoo hoo-ing as they stumble out from the bars. It's NEVER a dull or quiet moment here.

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    • Haha!! I know exactly where that is. We just moved from our apt behind Voyeur. So much paparazzi and Lindsay Lohan! Happy to be living in Pasadena where all I can hear are sqwaking wild parrot flocks and the quiet dinging of the Goldline and on Thursday nights the bustle of the farmers market and someone playing the sitar.

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      • OMG! Were you in the 'hood when Paris Hilton went to jail? NO ONE in WeHo was allowed to sleep in that day.

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        • Haha! OMG yes! I also worked in Beverly Hills. Needless to say my 2.5 mile commute took well over an hour and a half due to the sh*t show at the courthouse :P

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  3. That's a really neat idea, I bet there would be so many sounds recorded that we just never hear.

    Right now my neighbourhood sounds like rain on concrete, birds chirping, cars driving down a bumpy road and through puddles splashing, wind through old trees. Normally you can add construction noise, jackhammers and shovels, loud car radios, dogs barking and kids yelling and laughing.

    For a downtown neighbourhood its pretty quiet, at one point way back in the day, the city of Regina wasn't too bad at city planning.

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  4. It's an interesting idea but I question the legality of it- at least in the US. I know the intention is to get the sounds of a neighborhood, but you're effectively recording people without their knowledge. I know in Virginia, where I live, it's illegal to record a conversation unless at least one person involved is aware it's being recorded. With this sort of passive recording in public places, you could pick up tons of conversations from people who had no idea they were being recorded. With a public kiosk – conversations that were meant to remain private, could be exposed for others to hear. It could be a giant legal clusterfuck if someone say, discussed something illegal near the microphone where someone in the kiosk could hear it.
    That being said, I'm not surprised the idea came out of the UK, which supposedly has more closed circuit televisions per person than any other country in the world.

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    • But in the suburbs of Northern Virginia you'd probably hear cars – lots and lots of cars – the metro passing by, birds, and people arguing about politics.

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    • I feel the need to explain this CCTV thing every time it comes up. The reason most people in the UK are ok with it is that the vast majority is private companies recording what happens in public areas on their own property (like shops, cinemas ect.) and the vast majority of the footage is never watched by anyone.

      I feel like people hear this statistic and imagine a giant room full of government employees scrutinising everything everyone does like something from a George Orwell novel. The truth is both less worrying and less exciting.

      Mostly it's cameras in shops, cinemas, places like that. The footage is automatically recorded and automatically recorded over after a certain amount of time has passed.

      In my old workplace the one time anyone needed to see it (because my idiot co-worker was robbing the place) the manager had to get permission from head office, was only allowed to watch something like 3 hours of the tape and only he and the investigating officer were allowed to see it.

      I have no idea if it's that strict everywhere (thankfully I haven't worked with many thieves) but I do know most places don't have the desire or resources to actually have someone watch it all.

      So yeah, the upshot is it doesn't really make any difference if you're on CCTV or not unless someone happens to catch you commiting a crime – then they've got an extra piece of evidence to use against you.

      Also if you're on one of the cameras you're going to be out in public. If you do private things in a public place and someone sees you that's your fault IMO.

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    • Well, the microphones are clearly visible, and it doesn't say if the transmissions are actually recorded (I'm guessing not). They also aren't being placed with the intention of recording a specific individual. I suspect this would be legal.

      1 agrees
  5. screaming.

    screaming from dogs: barking for fun, barking at kids running down the street, howling at sirens.
    screaming from kids: happy playing screaming, running terrified from the barking dogs yelling, angry playing-is-now-fighting screaming.
    screaming from adults: at playing children, at other adults who lock them out of their house.
    screaming from objects: sirens, cars driving way too fast down streets with kids playing in them, power tools.

    at least, that's what pops into my head. which is funny, because i think of our neighborhood as really sweet and lovely. i guess those are just the memorable noises =)

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  6. Mostly you'd hear cars going past. Then about 3-4pm you'd hear the school down the road kicking out. Lots of loud teenagers yelling at each other on their way home.

    I don't think either would make people want to visit.

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  7. Cicadas. Woodpeckers. Calves bellowing for their mother's milk. Goat kids crying for the same. Roosters leading their flock to the most delicious bugs and hens signing their "egg song". A dog barking faintly a mile away. Occasionally a car on the gravel road 1/4 mile away. Otherwise, silence. If it's raining, (which admittedly isn't happening much these days), we enjoy the sound of the drops hitting the metal roof on the pole barn and chicken coop.

    Unless it is planting or harvesting time – then it's mostly large tractors and machinery. But's it's a fairly quick process and totally worth the sounds we enjoy the remainder of the days.

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      • Central Indiana. I *hated* our tiny apartment when we moved here for my husband's job and (not so) politely demanded that if I was going to live in Indiana, I was going to live IN Indiana. To me, this meant chickens, a huge garden, and a milk goat. He humored me and we now rent a 160 year old house on a working farm. We have 24 chickens, a 1800 sq ft garden, and lots of room – but sadly no milk goat yet. The cows, (meat) goats, and corn are here for our enjoyment, but we happily have no responsibility over them. If I can't live on the side of a mountain, at least I can love it here – even if it took some time. :)

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    • Sounds wonderful! I dream of moving to the mountains.

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      • I also dream of moving to the mountains! Two years ago I was plotting a return to Oregon and instead landed in Indiana. (They are just the same, right?!?) The horizon is a bit dull, but it's home for now. I dreamed of living in a decently-sized city near mountains, now I want space to breathe, grow food, and raise happy animals. It's interesting how time alters perspective.

        I recently complained to my husband that I couldn't sleep because the moon was too bright and the dog that lives a mile away was barking. Clearly, I was in a foul mood, but if that's what I have to complain about, I'd say we're doing quite well. :)

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  8. I live pretty close to a hospital, so there are always sirens. Oddly, since I'm on a pretty high floor, and since sirens signal "city" to me — grew up in the suburbs, and hated every second of it — I find it soothing; it's really comforting to know that I live somewhere I can get help if I need to. That people in my neighborhood are being cared for.

    ….I mean, I'm the person who was thrilled when I realized "Hey, I don't need a nightlight in my apartment, I can just use the ambient street light from [Big Famous Avenue]!"

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  9. Interesting thought.
    From outside our house you'd hear the beeping of the pedestrian crossing, traffic (how much would depend on the time of day) and birds. Twice a day there'd also be the sounds of lots of kids talking/laughing etc & the pedestrian crossing being activated. In the middle of the night, it'd be the occasional car and emergency sirens (followed closely by a chorus of barking).

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  10. Since it's cool enough to be outdoors, I'm trying this:

    –Several varieties of bird (whoo-hoo, chirp-chip, cheep-cheep-cheep, coo-coo-coo-coo-coo)
    –Large passing desert cicada, buzzing like a demented alarm clock
    –Airplanes, probably headed for cooler places like San Francisco and Seattle (3 in 5 minutes seems excessive…)
    –Traffic 3-4 streets away, but I'm so used to tuning that out that my ears weren't processing it
    –Very small dog yipping in the distance

    I don't think of this as a super-quiet neighborhood, but in the early morning, it's downright bucolic except for the airplane thing.

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  11. Random question about the picture… what kind of tree is that? I had one of those in my front yard growing up, and I never knew what it was…
    Sorry I have nothing else to contribute! :-P

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    • It looks to me like a flowering cherry, though I am not very knowledgable and don't know which species thereof. But there was a tree that looked just like that in my garden growing up, too, and that was a flowering cherry.

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    • Looks like a type of cherry blossom. My town has a bunch, but they look a little different.

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  12. Young kids swearing and acting like they're hot shit. Sometimes dogs barking. Occasionally in the summer you can hear music coming from the park. That's about it. My neighborhood is pretty quiet.

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