What the Internet Sounds Like

"I WISL a happy tune!"

the WISLers:
Richard Liston
Bill Tice
Thomas Hildebrandt

Similar or related projects:
Mark Bain's "Sniffer"
Ping Wheel

WISL is an open source project hosted at SourceForge.net Logo
What is WISL?
The Internet is comprised of a collection of machines that communicate according to a set of standard protocols. It has been in existence since the 1960's, and it was discovered by the masses in the early 1990's with the advent of the World Wide Web. Surprisingly, however, there is still much that is unknown about the workings of the internet. In many ways it behaves like a mysterious organism. WISL is an application that attempts to find out more about the Internet by listening to the network.
How can you listen to the Internet?
Each location in the internet may experience widely differing network characteristics at different times. WISL monitors the network's status from the vantage point of the machine on which it is running. WISL communicates with a central server, which also sends data back to the application with information about the state of the network.
Based on the information it receives, WISL plays different sounds drawn from a cohesive set of sounds, or SoundPalette, in real time. SoundPalettes can consist of many different kinds of sounds --- musical or otherwise. Depending on personal taste, the user can choose the SoundPalette that is used to generate the current sounds. WISL is also extensible: individuals can contribute their own SoundPalettes and/or NetModules --- the parts of WISL that monitor the network. As a result, WISL detects a rich variety of network conditions that get represented in sound. In a sense, WISL teaches the Internet to dynamically create music.
Is WISL spyware?
WISL IS NOT SPYWARE. We're explicitly telling you up front that WISL performs network performance measurements and the data is used for research purposes. The kinds of information that are collected are things like loss rate, latency, DNS performance, which are necessary for WISL to determine what the state of the network is, and your IP address which is public info anyway. WISL does not collect any personal information like credit card numbers, which web sites you visit or anything like that. Questions? Please email infoATwislDOTinfo.
WISL technical info
For portability, WISL is written in Java and utilizes the JavaSound API. WISL can work with many different sound file formats. Currently, the open Ogg Vorbis (OGG) format is supported. We will soon support other formats such as AIFF, AU, MP3 and WAV. SoundPalettes consist of XML files that conform to WISL's soundpalette.dtd file, plus a set of individual sound files. Multiple sounds can be played simultaneously. The SoundPalette describes to WISL when to play each sound. For more information on creating SoundPalettes see the file README.soundpalette, available also in the docs directory of the package.
Copyright 2004 Richard Liston