Sonifications Sometimes Behave So Strangely

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The comprehension of phenomena by analyzing and exploring data collected for the purpose is an old and established practice. Statistical methods have become quite sophisticated and are the bedrock of much modern scientific enquiry. Ever since William Playfair introduced the line, area, and bar charts (1786) and the pie chart and circle graph (1801) to the world, the field of information visualization research has refined and extended his ideas and has developed rules and heuristics for the visual representation of data. In all of this, it is not evident that the ontological nature of vision has been taken into account. And why would it be? Phenomenologists and anthropologists have presented varied and competing theories as to how we perceive the world visually, but it seems that much of that can be bracketed when it comes to choosing how to lay out a plot or a chart.

Sonification is a family of representational techniques that use non-speech audio to communicate data and data relations (think Geiger counter for data). With its recent use in the discovery of gravitational waves, sonification has begun to gain some cultural traction, but for the most part it lacks the ubiquity and acceptance of its graphical cousin, information visualization. The term “sonification” was adopted to describe the use of non-speech sound for communicating data and data relations, and when Greg Kramer established the International Community for Auditory Display and its associated conference series, the International Conference on Auditory Display in 1992, the emergent field of sonification research put down roots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies
EditorsMichael Bull, Marcel Cobussen
Place of PublicationNew York, London
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781501338779, 9781501338762
ISBN (Print)9781501338755
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies


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