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What the Internet Sounds Like

The Peoples Cloud is a documentary about the cloud, its physical location and the people who work to maintain it, Via Fastcodesign

Does the internet have a sound? Is it the whirring fan that keeps your computer from overheating? Is it a flurry of incessant notification pings? Is it the cackling laugh of Chewbacca Mom? Or is a monotonous drone, humming from an anonymous building where servers spin their disks and spit out information to millions of devices across a global network?

This is the soundtrack to the web documentary The People’s Cloud, by the filmmaker and sound designer Matt Parker. The documentary follows Parker’s journey to a series of data centers and fiber optic cable networks as he demystifies the physical backbone of the cloud. Armed with a set of microphones as well as his camera, Parker also recorded the sounds of the locations he visited across Europe. The resulting soundtrack is a sonic portrait of the network infrastructure that powers our world.

“Companies use these terms like ethernet or the cloud or virtual–these sorts of words help to distance our perception of what’s actually going on when we make a connection to the internet through our computer, or through our phone, which feels completely untethered to anything,” Parker says. “I’m trying to find ways to allow these spaces to speak for themselves in an acoustic sense, in a way that is thinking about how the internet isn’t just some kind of magical land up in the clouds floating about, but is something that’s very much a product of very intense industry on a global scale that affects urban spaces, non-urban spaces, the ocean, the rural.”

Beneath the internet we experience, there’s a dark, rumbling sound. The soundtrack to The People’s Cloud is a medley of compositions that mix brutal, clashing sounds with beautiful, tonal layers of white noise.

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