In today’s New York Times there is an interesting short article on an invention of Noah Vawter’s at MIT called “Ambient Addition.” A quick search into the Internets finds this page with tantalizing video provided by the inventor. Basically what’s going on is that Vawter has come up with a way to create music using the ambient noises which surrounds a person as they walk a city. The effect is pretty cool, maybe even trippy. In the library world, I wonder if this isn’t a good illustration of ambient serendipity within the medium of sound. But what if that medium were other information sources?
“In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur
In the video from Vawter’s above page, there are great examples of urban noise transformed into interesting music; a rhythmic jackhammer or pinging hand truck. Cruising the library stacks would be much more fun, and maybe more rewarding, if all that latent bibliographic information could be turned immersive to the patron while they walked instead of limiting the interaction to a “catalog only” terminal. Possibly this could be done by combining existing RFID tags with Library 2.0 tools like LibraryThing and a heads-up display to draw patrons deep into all aspects of a title. Unlike the call and response of a search box, make physical presence among call numbers in the stacks the point of interaction where a certain title’s relationship to other titles, subjects, and even patrons is the result. Others are already doing this, and I’ll save links here as I track them down.