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What am I missing…

While listening to public radio, my ears perked up when I heard a story about how the first MP3 was created. It seems that in 1987, Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega was the first song that was compressed into what we now know as the current MP3. It seems that to create an MP3 the file is compressed and that some of the audio data is lost in the process. While the current technology seems to give us acceptable losses, there are losses none the less. Ryan Maguire’s Ghost in the MP3 project examines this lost information and presents this lost data as an oddly beautiful piece of music, a sort of phoenix from the ashes. In addition, our cell service is regularly flattened which has the effect of removing the emotion out of the voice we are listening to while supposedly reducing background noise, it also removes some of the emotional content of the voice- possibly one of the few remaining things that we have that computers can not yet replicate.
While these losses may seem insignificant, it reminds me of the poem by Martin Niemoller, “First They Came” how one by one the Nazis purged groups until there was no one left to protest when at last they came for the author, no one was left to hear his protests. What exactly are we compressing, do we know what we loose over the thundering goosestepping of technology. While I like to think we have learned from our mistakes if we wait too long our calls of protest will be devoid of emotion content in the interest of reducing the background noise.

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the pulse of the universe

One of the early forms of music is Gregorian Chant- its a sacred based form of unaccompanied singing. The basis of the music is the alternating of two beats or pulses and three pulses. This alternating pulse or beat is the basis of this music and one of the foundations of western music. This pulse of alternating two and three made me think about binary code and the alternating pulse of 0’s and 1’s. This has become the basis of computer code and the basis of all the innovations that computers have brought. Now if you think that computers are in their infancy where will this alternating pulse take us. And if that is the basis of so two world-changing ideas shouldn’t we give a bit more respect to the pulse – the simple rhythms around us? The pulse of alternating two and three, or one and zero or the pulse of the amazing machine that animates us, our heart..
Chant to Code

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