Tag Archives: technology

Review: Spirits of Place

I’ve just finished reading Spirits of Place, edited by John Reppion, the Daily Grail-published collection of writings on place, narrative, history and spirit. I was not disappointed.

Reppion opened by – among other things – describing an event of the same name he organized earlier in 2016 hosted on the same site as a degraded Neolithic tomb. The event itself raised sacred space in spectacular fashion and is, perhaps, a lesson and charge for the coming year without the participants having known just how stark it feels. As Reppion states, “To create a space that is emphatically ‘anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist’ on the grounds of so malevolent an enterprise and to fill it with events for young people does seem redemptive. Yet to perform in such a space can never be lighthearted.”

There’s a bit too much to unpack in a proper review – the collection is part essay grouping, part philosophical studies journal, part occult newsletter – but the essays in each case stand proudly for themselves with each raising their own space. Whether it’s Gazelle Amber Valentine talking idenity, Warren Ellis writing on radio signal as bomb blast radius, Maria J. Perez Cuervo illustrating the process of secret, dangerous and necessary libraries growing seemingly of their own magnetism or Vajra Chandrasekera on fascism, nationalism and grief, the contents are topical and fascinating and juggle between dreamily speculative and heartbreakingly eloquent. Chandrasekera’s contribution in particular felt crucial and grounding, setting the tone almost as clearly as Reppion’s introduction:

In our periodic riots, Sinhala mobs in search of Tamil or Muslim people to assault but still unable to identify them on sight (because we all pretty much look the same) would demand that potential targets perform their Sinhala-ness or Buddhist-ness with shibboleths: pronouncing particular words to test for accents, or reciting Buddhist prayers that people of other religions were unlikely to know. For example, the ඉතිපිසෝ, which in a great irony is a recitation of the virtues of the Buddha, probably including suitably incongruous things like kindness and compassion. I say probably even though I know it by heart (I suspect my not-particularly-pious parents insisted on me learning these prayers by memory in anticipation of future riots) because the prayer is in Pali, not Sinhala, and I’ve long since forgotten what the words mean: to me, it’s just a string of sounds that represent thuggish fanaticism.

With my breath fully taken away by lines like:

Grief is a nation, like the dead are a nation. These are the nationalisms I can get behind.

I name only a few here not to suggest they held themselves over the rest, but precisely because I could go on and on about the other writers included and so bore you to death and draw my review out to outlandish and unhelpful proportions.

I do want to single out the piece by Damien Patrick Williams, one of the primary reasons I picked up this book (along with the topic itself and work by luminaries like Ellis and Alan Moore). In addition to being a friend, Williams has been quoted in WIRED magazine and interviewed on the Flashforward and Mindful Cyborg podcasts on the intersection between magic and technology, one of my primary interests. His contribution to this book excelled my expectations as it seamlessly covered biographical explanation, philosophical exploration, virtual space and place, mythology and psychology. He covers two more of my favorite topics, ravens and synchronicities, and pulls apart the phenomenons of my experience masterfully:

But the concept structure of ritual space can be applied to any time or place which, for reasons of mentality and mood, must be set apart. In sociological and trauma studies, we discuss this idea in terms of “safe spaces”; in martial arts, we have the dojo; in magic, the drawing of the circle. In all of these instances, we use words, or a knife, or chalk, or a song, and we carve out something sacred from within the profane, and the 1990s Internet was pretty much a perfect expression of this. The complex protocols to log-in, the aforementioned terminology and conceptual framing, all of it conjured an intentional Otherness of place and mind.

The ever-magical Alan Moore closes out the collection with a fantastic and thoroughly electrifying piece that serves, as Reppion laments not doing with the actual event in April, as a closing ritual for the book. And as many of the other pieces do, spiraling ever outward from Reppion’s convocation, Moore’s entry exists in a sort of trifold space; it covers the past, it applies to the present, and reaches out to the future with a mystical, speculative beckoning:

Everywhere the grind and rumble of epochal gears, the flat stones of Satanic mills as they commence to turn. A creaking at the limits, at the edge of our condition, a raw frontier of our lust and fear and capability.

The topics truly covered across the book are legion; if your interests cover anything around philosophy, place, folklore, magic, immediate urban experience, history and future of politics, this book will absolutely have something for you. My suggestion: seek the book out, raise your own space, read it and proceed from there. It’s easily one of my favorite books of 2016.

Errata: Megacity Fighting, EU Citizenship, Georgia v. DHS, South Korea,

Military Contingencies in Megacities and Sub-Megacities – “After elucidating the nature of urbanization and developing a typology in terms of smart, fragile, and feral cities, we give consideration to the kinds of contingencies that the U.S. military, especially the Army, needs to think about and prepare for. Understanding the city as a complex system or organism is critical and provides the basis for changes in intelligence, recruitment, training, equipment, operations, and tactics.” – I’m reading this later today.

EU negotiators will offer Brits an individual opt-in to remain EU citizens, chief negotiator confirms – As @ManMadeMoon said, “Step 1 to a new, non-geographical nationhood! This is getting really interesting.”

Georgia Secretary of State aggressively confronting DHS over a “penetration of [Georgia’s] firewall.”

Finally seeing a bill to impeach the South Korean president (this whole saga is fascinating to me).

From the International Spectator, the world’s most frequent flight paths.

NASA finally has its own Giphy page.

Via Karen James: “Hey neuroscientists & neuroscience-inspired artists, check out this pattern around a rock in a pond in @AcadiaNPS as it begins to freeze.”

And finally, via ars technica: Millions exposed to malvertising that hid attack code in banner pixels – “The malicious script is concealed in the alpha channel that defines the transparency of pixels, making it extremely difficult for even sharp-eyed ad networks to detect. After verifying that the targeted browser isn’t running in a virtual machine or connected to other types of security software often used to detect attacks, the script redirects the browser to a site that hosts three exploits for now-patched Adobe Flash vulnerabilities.”

DIY Combat Drones

Popular Mechanics highlighted a few stories in the world of DIY weapons lately that’re worth looking at. Sort of a mashup, but to distill down: an ISIS workshop in Mosul was found with a number of DIY weaponized drones. This follows a February find of a workshop in Ramadi complete with vehicles constructed of plywood and styrofoam. The Mosul site included a peculiar model that looked to be a fixed-wing drone with attached quadrotor and PM speculated that it was either a mothership kind of design or for dropping boobytrapped quadrotors.

I’m left wondering if it was some sad attempt to create a fixed wing/VTOL hybrid, able to elevate vertically without runway or human launch but then take advantage of fixed-wing speed and stability like a Harrier.

Another part of the Popular Mechanics story was from Syria, where a refugee camp was hit by miniature guided bombs that appeared to be at least partially 3D-printed. They lacked engines but did apparently have working servos to operate fins and provide mid-course correction or at least stabilization, reportedly dropped from drones. I’ve been expecting sophisticated 3D-printed ordnance from insurgencies for a while but assumed they’d be in rocket form – perhaps it’s just easier to drop from above and guide in than launch and propel, plus the launch site has a better chance of staying undetected. The problem with assuming these latter are insurgent bombs though – aside from the fact that the Syrian regime is happy to kill refugees at their leisure – is that the height you’d need to drop them from to allow for any kind of vertical guidance is considerable, higher than the typical quadrotor. ISIS obviously has fixed wing dronecraft but the level of sophistication involved has me wondering.

Given the previous evolution I talked about involving ipad accelerometers to aim mortars in Syria and Raspberry Pi-powered missile launchers in Ukraine, when we were barely producing single-shot 3D printed firearms a decade ago, we’re likely to see more innovation in this area and to terrible effect.

Report Approved: A Story

Note: AnticiPol is a real thing, and works along the lines of what’s described here (though the DOJ doesn’t certify policing augmentations, yet). UbiquiPol is entirely made up but plausible given current technology. Behavior analysis programs exist, though they’re entirely prone to false positives and carry wickedly inherent bias. Investigational databases exist currently. Automatic querying and cross-referencing of multiple databases already exists. Shopping malls use MAC tracking already, for god’s sake.

We’re less than a year out from this.

The following is a brief summary of events that occurred on July 22, 2017.

At approximately 1455 hours I was directed by Sergeant Michael Wesley to deviate from my traditionally assigned patrol area and conduct a combination foot/vehicle patrol an area around Snow Ridge Park identified by AnticiPol as particularly at-risk for property crime during my shift. AnticiPol is a private software package that analyzes past crime statistics and area features and compiles a list of locations where crimes may be reasonably expected to occur at certain times. The Snow Ridge Police Department utilized AnticiPol successfully for over a year and it is certified by the Department of Justice as a verified Policing Augmentation Tool.

As my patrol began at 1500 hours I proceeded to the defined zone and parked my cruiser on Main Street. I then initiated foot patrol southbound on Main Street, intending to take a right on Cutlass Way approximately 575 feet south of my police cruiser. I would then take another right on Elm Ave, continue northbound to Poplar Street and then eastbound back to Main Street. Each of these streets is a public way in the city of Snow Ridge. This prospective patrol route was established by AnticiPol to also keep me within signal range of my cruiser so that body camera video and audio could be relayed back to the UbiquiPol servers for automatic recording, analysis and feedback.

The AnticiPol report generated for my shift indicated the high likelihood of property crime in this specific area between 1500 and 1900 hours, to wit vandalism. The Main Street/Elm Ave area is known to me as an area in which vandalism has occurred repeatedly over the last six months. It has largely consisted of the spraypainting or “tagging” of various names and political statements on businesses in the area, causing damage to their buildings and profitability. With the benefit of AnticiPol’s report I therefore began specifically looking for subjects committing, or about to commit, vandalism.

In preparation for casual encounters with the populace I activated my UbiquiPol body camera and initiated my patrol. I then had approximately four casual encounters with citizens on Main Street. Utilizing my training and experience as a law enforcement officer I evaluated each person according to my general impression of the typical spraypaint vandal. I did not find any suspect meeting the likely criteria. UbiquiPol similarly performed evaluations according to its own programming which, after attending an 8 hour class on its operation, is known to me. UbiquiPol transmits images via a repeated radio system in the cruiser to UP servers in the state of Nevada. UP computers analyze the video and audio and provide feedback to the Mobile Data Terminal Tablet each officer carries on patrol. The UP feedback includes the result of facial recognition and cross-references a number of databases, including that of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), Board of Probation (BOP), investigational databases such as the Investigational Information Relay System (IIRS), our local police department files, and those databases of UbiquiPol’s corporate partners. It then returns information ranging from an individual’s driving and criminal records to investigational entries on the IIRS network to corporate intelligence shared by UP. In addition the UP data is analyzed according to UP’s own algorithms for anomalous material. According to metrics established by UP if anything suspicious is detected an alert is sent to a Wireless Investigational Notification System wrapped around my left wrist, and the WINS unit vibrates.

A corresponding profile on each individual was transmitted to my MDTT and available for reading. I reached Cutlass Way and reviewed the material before continuing after being satisfied no person encountered fit the profile of a property criminal.

Approximately 75 feet westbound on Cutlass Way the WINS unit vibrated and alerted me to suspicious material – in this case, an individual approximately 50 feet further westbound and walking away from me had a backpack slung over one shoulder. WINS advised that subjects prone to PROPERTY CRIME – VANDALISM – SPRAYPAINTING/TAGGING often use such bags to transport spraypaint cans and other contraband. WINS further advised that the individual in question had been looking eastbound when I reached the intersection of Main Street and Cutlass Way and had immediately turned and begun proceeding away from me, an action classified as FURTIVE MOVEMENT – AVOIDANCE. Due to the subject’s furtive movement WINS did not capture a clear image of their face and was consequently unable to provide a complete profile. According to department procedure, upon the notification of elements of suspicion, I used the WINS unit to request patrol guidance. The WINS unit advised as follows: “SUSPICION INDEX 0.7 – INITIATE CONTACT LVL III.” According to my training I knew this to mean that, having been computed higher than 0.5, this individual’s Suspicion Index along with my own training and experience combined to provide reasonable suspicious that he had committed, was committing or was about to commit the crime of vandalism.

I initiated contact with the unknown subject by calling to them. The party paused mid step but did not turn around. I called again and requested they come over to me. The WINS unit provided feedback that their servers considered this pause to be FURTIVE and may indicate criminal consciousness of a previous crime and/or intent to commit a crime by way of fleeing from a lawful officer. The subject turned to face me and appeared to be a white male with close cut brown hair, approximately 19 years of age, approximately 5 feet 8 inches. He wore blue jeans and a grey hooded sweatshirt or “hoodie.”

The subject approached me and I requested his name. The subject replied “None of your business.” I stated I was a police officer and he was required to provide his name at this time. The subject replied “I haven’t done anything, you don’t need my name.” At or around this time the WINS unit vibrated to notify me of new information. I requested the subject stand still and kept him in view while retrieving my MDTT. UbiquiPol had processed the party’s face according to procedure and run several pre-programmed database queries.

The subject in front of me was positively identified as DAVIES, MARK (see attached face sheet and supplementals). The MDTT first provided his Registry of Motor Vehicles driver’s license photo from the state of Colorado and through visual inspection I found the subject and DAVIES to be the same person. As this investigation did not involve vehicle issues I skipped past the RMV section. The Board of Probation data stated that DAVIES had three recorded arrests, two for trespassing and one for disorderly conduct, all closed. The Investigational Information Relay System provided several investigational notes entered by other law enforcement agencies. They provided general information on DAVIES, addresses, known associates and specific intelligence. DAVIES is known to two other law enforcement agencies in the state of Colorado to be an active member of several political organizations on record as instigating civil disturbances, impeding the free movement of traffic, and property damage. Finally, UP corporate partners provided similar intelligence on DAVIES as well as current and suspected cell phone numbers, MAC addresses of known or suspected devices, email addresses, intermittent GPS data and other information. UPCORP data indicated that DAVIES possessed one of the suspected devices and had left the wi-fi active, broadcasting a MAC known to him or his immediate surroundings, further confirming that the subject was indeed DAVIES.

At this time the dispatcher informed me over the radio earpiece that they received a call on a past vandalism approximately a block away. OurBank (Snow Ridge Branch) manager HOLMES, SKYLER called to report finding obscene graffiti on the side of the building. The graffiti consisted of “FORECLOSE THIS” with an image of a hand with middle finger extended. See witness statement from HOLMES, S as well as supplementals 911 recording and digital image attached to this report.

I pressed a button on the MDTT requesting a second officer with the flow of traffic/non-emergency and replaced the MDTT on my belt. Subject DAVIES shifted his feet – it is unknown at this time whether he was uncomfortable standing in place or preparing to unlawfully flee – and I observed an audible clinking sound from the backpack slung over one shoulder. Through knowledge and experience that sound reasonably appeared to be the sound of several metal/plastic cans rubbing against each other, such as cans of spraypaint. I observed DAVIES tense up and stare at me. DAVIES became angry and demanded to know if he was being arrested. I stated he was being interacted with in the process of an investigation. DAVIES requested the presence of his attorney. I stated we do not invite attorneys to participate in field interactions. DAVIES then told me to “fuck off with your fascist bullshit.” DAVIES continued to tense up in a manner familiar to me through training and experience that he was about to unlawfully flee or assault me. It was at this time for both our safety I assisted DAVIES to the ground in order to prevent him from fleeing or attacking me. DAVIES stayed on the ground until Officer Wilcock arrived.

I requested Officer Wilcock take over primary control of DAVIES and he did so. I retrieved my MDTT to enter elements in the Interaction Report for DAVIES, most of which backfill automatically. I also entered the reported OurBank vandalism as possibly associated. Ubiquipol alerted me that the MAC address for DAVIES cellphone had been within 25 feet of OurBank – Snow Ridge Branch for approximately six minutes around the time of the crime.

I asked DAVIES if he had just vandalized OurBank. DAVIES again repeated “fuck off” and requested access to an attorney. I asked what was in his backpack. DAVIES stated he did not give consent for any search. Given the sum of all information at hand including DAVIES’ furtive movements and attempted evasion, his records and being placed at the scene of the crime probable cause was established to search DAVIES backpack. This search was also conducted for the safety of all at the scene, and according to Snow Ridge Police Department guidelines. I unzipped the backpack and observed several cans of what appeared to be spraypraint, tape, and several heavy pieces of cardboard that appeared to be stencils.

DAVIES was read his rights and placed under arrest at that time for property crime, to wit: vandalism, as well as disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was transported in a marked cruiser directly to court for a magistrate hearing.

Officer Blake Summerhill
Snow Ridge Police Department

Report approved by:
Sergeant Timothy Carson
Snow Ridge Police Department

Supplementals available:
Face sheet: DAVIES, MARC
AnticiPol predictive report
HOLMES, SKYLER witness statement
HOLMES, SKYLER 911 call recording
Photographs: vandalized property, arrestee’s property
MACTRACK Community Protection Monitoring Report, Snow Ridge Park area 07/04/17
Booking report and photograph: DAVIES, MARC
Supplemental report: Officer Wilcox, John

Note: AnticiPol predictive algorithms, IIRS and UPCORP data are proprietary and unavailable for evidence review per their respective rightsholders and/or the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Some Bits and Pieces

via @m1sp,


via @robertloerzel,


via @science_hooker, @lornalou92‘s ‘A Scot’s Lament for Americans, Oan their election of a tangerine gabshite walloper.’

via @museumarchive, a 6th century Buddha statue found in a Viking grave in Sweden.

via @valaafshar, what happens when you toss a pot of boiling water in -25 degree air.

and via Bill Tozier, an intriguing question that’s gripped my brain since he asked it:



And to finish off for the evening: Kate McKinnon opens SNL by singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” That broke me a bit in a lovely and haunting way.

The Explosive Trajectory of Technology

Jon Jeckell tweeted a Popular Mechanics piece showing what appeared to be a Ukrainian prototype shoulder-fired missile with a guidance system powered by the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. The inclusion of the Pi makes it a seeming next-step from the much shared image of Syrian rebels in Jobar in 2013 using an iPad to angle mortar fire. We are using our new off-the-shelf street-level tools to build the complex weapons systems out of most people’s reach for the past half-century or more.

Just as notable as the idea that it uses the hobbyist computer is that it’s apparently guided by sound, making it the first sound-homing ground-based weapon. This dovetails neatly with another trend I’ve been tracking and laid out a bit in The Renewed Importance of Sound – an exploration and exploitation of a much different sensory domain than we’re used to engaging with.

Mortars have been around since the 14th century or so – unsurprisingly (due to the history of gunpowder), first appearing in east/southeast Asia. It took 500 years to go from massive, unwieldy field artillery pieces to the compact Stokes trench mortar in the first World War that could be carried and crewed by a single soldier. Less than fifty years later, engineers successfully managed to link hardware and firing control computers in such a way that they could achieve MRSI or Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact, a devastating deployment of ordnance in which multiple weapons in different places fire in such a way that their rounds reach the target at the same time. With minimal human input, which seems to be the way our weapons trend.

Shoulder-fired missiles have a similar line of development. Traced back to ancient Chinese arrows loaded with black powder and a fuse, they evolved then into multiply-crewed weapons systems that looked like a collection of tubes on a single wheel axle that could be fired in quick succession but not aimed particularly well. Fast forward roughly equivalent to the above and you get to the Panzerfaust of World War II and similar rocket-propelled weapons systems that were much more practical and stable, if not necessarily accurate. And again, in less than 10% of the time between the real inception of the weapon and its 20th century jump, the technology jumped again. As just one example, Britain developed the MBT-LAW shoulder-fired “fire and forget” system that tracks moving targets on its own, making autonomous corrections to its flight path and speed. Also consider MANPAD (man-portable air defense systems) like the Stinger missile.

At first glance the Jobar case and the Ukrainian prototype seem disconnected. After all, the former involves using the accelerometer of a separate, unlinked device whereas the missile integrates the technology. But consider the similar technological trajectories of the weapons systems and the fact that people without access to Pentagon engineers can now not only use computers to deliver ordnance accurately but can relatively easily link them similar to the MRSI concept explained above. Once an abstract concept, ballistic computers are now so natively and immediately understood that in the absence of them we appropriate our own, integrate them how we can, and deploy.


University of Pennsylvania information science professor Matt Blaze happened upon an SUV near the Philadelphia Convention Center sporting a license plate radio and other surveillance gear not-so-cleverly disguised as a Google Street Car (the kind that roam around and produce Google Maps and the accompanying Street-level scenery). More than a few outfits picked up the story and determined that it was a Philadelphia Police vehicle but the, ahem, cunning misdirection was “not authorized.”

Many people are loading their homes with extra-smart devices, not just connected but able to do things like spoken language processing thanks to microphones and cloud software, such as the Amazon Echo. Gizmodo’s Matt Novak put in a Freedom of Information Act request to see if the FBI had yet wiretapped one and received what’s known as a Glomar Response: “We can neither confirm nor deny.” Draw your own conclusions there.

An incredible, insane investigation shows that federal agents bugged public areas around bay-area courthouses for years in the hopes of overhearing illegal conversations. And did so without warrants. In order to catch mortgage auction bid-rigging.

In public, non-public and supposedly privileged areas we are less and less able to depend on any kind of principles around privacy. In some cases (such as the Echo) we willingly surrender some of that privacy for convenience. In others we find that the privacy considered to be sacrosanct is violated without so much as due process of law. Practicality demands we enter into two renegotiations: one with ourselves regarding what privacy and self-security we’re willing to relinquish in exchange for services (Echo) or some semblance of safety (overall law enforcement); and a second with each other, on the civic level, as technology enables vastly greater surveillance powers but doesn’t seem to be enabling greater democracy. As Thomas Rid said in the excellent Cyber War Will Not Take Place, “The real risk for liberal democracies is not that these technologies empower individuals more than the state; the long-term risk is that technology empowers the state more than individuals, thus threatening to upset a carefully calibrated balance of power between citizens and the governments they elect to serve them.”

I have a deep love for subversive technologies – something that should be no surprise. Rid’s book contains an excellent discussion on technology and subversion, a discussion we need to revisit as the state and other institutions demand authority and legitimacy but continue to interfere with protected freedoms. Our technology currently empowers the state. What does the situation look like with more balance? What technologies can we promote that, as Rid defines subversion, deliberately attempt to undermine the trustworthiness, integrity and constitution of an established authority or order. Certainly they’re not all illegal and there are perhaps some of those technologies that may be illegal or treated as illegal that aren’t. For instance, use of the Tor anonymization platform is perfectly legal but, as authorities have admitted, brings extra law enforcement scrutiny to users and makes them surveillance targets (so does the simple act of encrypting your net traffic, such as through a commercial VPN). That very tension – between an act not being illegal yet prioritizing one as a target for more surveillance – is at the heart of subversion because it exposes the practical differences between the values we exalt and the operational principles we employ.

It’s not an easy balancing act. Nothing about this is simple. But the narratives that FBI Director James Comey and others keep slinging are filled with, at best, inaccuracies. The FBI positions aren’t a result of them being disempowered by encryption but empowered by a myriad of technologies – automated plate readers, better remote microphones, in-home surveillance rigs – and fearful of a re-balancing.

Technology’s primary role should be to empower individuals. Tell me I’m wrong.

Security & Tech Briefs: Chrome, Trump, Smartwatches, Mac Exploit

Detectify Labs shared a clever way to deactivate security (or any) chrome plugins with a simple ping.

Donald Trump’s website was hacked, likely due to a CMS that hadn’t been patched in five years.

The insurance industry is concerned about smartwatches, the Internet of Things, big data and information security.

Ars Technica on a major 0day Mac exploit that’s already being seen in the wild.

Briefs: Women in Combat, NYSE, AI and Legal Work, OPM, Rothfuss

NYSE being vague about yesterday’s major trading glitch. I’m not convinced, but I’ve got no evidence to the otherwise.

Two lawyers talking about how artificial intelligence may affect legal work.

The Daily Beast on how OPM’s IT security department had no one with IT security experience.

The parody DPRK News twitter account ended up as a Fox News reference.

Excellent TED talk highlighting American women on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Of special note:

Author and all-around awesome person Patrick Rothfuss has started a new podcast with Max Temkin of Cards Against Humanity fame (or infamy). Really loved their first conversation – check it out here.

The Renewed Importance of Sound

There’s been an uptick in our recognition of the value of sound lately. Might be surprising in a world dominated by folks staring at phones and monitors all day – or make perfect sense, given that sound allows us to enter and engage with a different sensory domain than the visual in a world so visually busy.

Take Microsoft’s Cybercrime Center identifying infected computer network (botnet) communications by sound rather than signal.

The stew of infections in New York has a signature honk. The stew in Tokyo sounds almost like human voices. But what can sound really tell us about cybercrime?

Rubin, the designer, says the sound patterns “might prompt someone to ask a question or wonder about something that hadn’t previously been noticed before. Why are there all these hits coming in from this particular slice of the globe?”

Or consider the new field of soundscape ecology, in which scientists measure environmental changes and ecosystem health through analyzing its sounds. Here’s a short NOVA video on the subject.

Sound has also become a popular subject for TED conferences. Widen the perspective from ecosystem to everything and you get Physicist Janna Levin’s TED talk on exploring the universe through sound. It’s garnered nearly a million views since 2011.

We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says the universe has a soundtrack — a sonic composition that records some of the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang on spacetime like a drum.)

Or dial your perspective straight into the personal experience of sound and you find Daniel Kish’s talk about using sonar by tongue clicks to navigate a world he can’t see. 800,000 views since March – it was ubiquitously shared across most of my feeds.

There are, of course, many more examples across technology and culture, especially recently. I’m left wondering at this point: is the resurgence of sound a reaction to a world so visually busy, or is it the next step in learning to augmenting ourselves and our systems now that we’ve got a better handle on the sighted world?