Crowdsourcing Silence in the Urban Din

Will geotagging your favorite refuge from the maddening crowd ultimately threaten the most peaceful urban hideaways?

What noises are part of your daily urban soundscape: honking horns, jack hammers, yammering mobile phone users? Do you have a short list of quiet places you go to escape all that? Jason Sweeney, an Australian sound artist, wants you to share them. The winner of a $10,000 TED Imagining the City 2.0 prize, Sweeney aims to build a crowdsourced clearinghouse of the quietest places in our loud cities.

He calls it the Stereopublic Project and hopes it will "increase the sonic health of the city—both for everyday introverts, but also for people with disabilities, like autism and schizophrenia, who crave less sensory stimuli."

Inhabitat's Andrew Michler points out though that if everyone rushes to geotag their favorite oasis, those places could soon become corrupted with clamor:

...ironically, the project’s success will likely make those quiet spaces busier, further pushing inhabitants to explore new places. The idea may become a failed experiment if it becomes too successful


Still, though we've seen recent developments in predicting urban noise pollution, Sweeney's project might be more practical than, say, a street corner, sound-muffling confessional booth.

Photo via CITY2.0