Face Averaging and Google Image Search Results

“Okay Google, I’d like to connect you with this algorithm I’ve worked out to create pictures of faces by averaging your image search results.  First, show me what you think Man, Woman, Girl, and Boy look like.” “Well, that gives us a baseline of sorts, but let’s see what you can do with something more…

Time-Lapse Video From National Park Service Webcams

Time-lapse imagery spanning multiple years is fairly uncommon, but some promising sources for it turn out to be hiding in plain sight. The National Park Service maintains a number of air quality webcam archives that now reach back in time as much as twenty years.  Each of the webcams is trained on a view within a…

Archivorithm Number One, Second Edition

A couple months ago, I introduced a piece of experimental music called Archivorithm Number One.  I’ve continued to tinker with it in the meantime, and I’d now like to release a “second edition,” along with a fresh round of audio examples which I hope you’ll enjoy.  Let’s kick things off with a twenty-six-minute medley.  (See…

Displaying Historical Newspapers as Motion Pictures

The rise of digital newspaper archives has opened up many new possibilities for cultivating the periodical past.  Old newspapers have obviously become easier to search and more convenient to read than they were before, but here I’d like to explore another novel opportunity we have for experiencing them: as motion pictures made up of long runs…

Speech Averaging: “A Visit From St. Nicholas”

Consider the performance art of reciting poetry.  We recognize that it can be done well or poorly, that everybody will do it a little differently, and that no two performances will ever be quite alike.  But what if we were to average a number of recitations?  Would the result approach an ideal “performance” that sounds…

The Secret Military Origins of the Sound Spectrograph

The sound spectrogram is a playable audio format, even though it’s usually meant to be seen and not heard.  Most spectrograms represent types of content that are readily accessible in other, more convenient formats.  But if we want to hear what the secret speech-scrambling technologies of the Second World War sounded like, spectrograms printed in…

Reading Secretary Hand (and Sound Recordings, Too)

“Griffonage” literally means hard-to-read handwriting, and it usually refers to a careless, hasty scrawl.  But even the tidiest handwriting from the past can be hard to read today if it’s in an unfamiliar script, a point I’d like to underscore here by working through three documents in the secretary hand that was routinely used for…