theatlantic:

The Mechanics and Meaning of That Ol’ Dial-Up Modem Sound

Of all the noises that my children will not understand, the one that is nearest to my heart is not from a song or a television show or a jingle. It’s the sound of a modem connecting with another modem across the repurposed telephone infrastructure. It was the noise of being part of the beginning of the Internet.

I heard that sound again this week on Brendan Chillcut’s simple and wondrous site: The Museum of Endangered Sounds. It takes technological objects and lets you relive the noises they made: Tetris, the Windows 95 startup chime, that Nokia ringtone, television static. The site archives not just the intentional sounds — ringtones, etc — but the incidental ones, like the mechanical noise a VHS tape made when it entered the VCR or the way a portable CD player sounded when it skipped. If you grew up at a certain time, these sounds are like technoaural nostalgia whippets. One minute, you’re browsing the Internet in 2012, the next you’re on a bus headed up I-5 to an 8th grade football game against Castle Rock in 1995.

The noises our technologies make, as much as any music, are the soundtrack to an era.Soundscapes are not static; completely new sets of frequencies arrive, old things go. […]

When I think of 2012, I will think of the overworked fan of my laptop and the ding of getting a text message on my iPhone. I will think of the beep of the FastTrak in my car as it debits my credit card so I can pass through a toll onto the Golden Gate Bridge. I will think of Siri’s uncanny valley voice.

But to me, all of those sounds — as symbols of the era in which I’ve come up — remain secondary to the hissing and crackling of the modem handshake.

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  1. nothinginthatdrawer reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. scu reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Of all the noises that my children will not understand, the one that is nearest to my heart is not from a song or a...
  3. muddledmoogle reblogged this from soulofayoungman
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  5. soulofayoungman reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Definitely check out http://savethesounds.info/
  6. primuscapio reblogged this from theatlantic
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  11. s-m-i reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Everything about this.
  12. davidbobzien reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. tablogs reblogged this from shepherdsnotsheep and added:
    My childhood
  14. mariposaduende reblogged this from halfgirlfriend
  15. oldsampeabody reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    my childhood. Chills, man, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
  16. rs reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    The Mechanics and Meaning of That Ol’ Dial-Up Modem Sound
  17. morethanalittlelost reblogged this from theatlantic
  18. hepatosaurus reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I should be embarrassed to admit that I actually got chills listening to that, buuuuuut I’m not.
  19. brianlovesthis reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    There’s something strangely comforting about this sound.
  20. shepherdsnotsheep reblogged this from carolynmalachi