“Your Ocean Sound” in our data portal

Christel Clerc and Nadja Tata

By Christel Clerc and Nadja Tata
16.03.2021 | 4 minutes reading time

This spring, we’re combining underwater noise and our newly released data portal with the music hackathon “Your Ocean Sound”. Your creativity is needed! We will present the winners at our next Mediasphere Meetup on April 26.

Penguin at the Ozeaneum Stralsund, photo: Valentin Giebel
Penguin at the Ozeaneum Stralsund, photo: Valentin Giebel

While the museum’s exhibition remained closed to the public until last week due to corona, all activities in the background regarding the collection disclosure, the development of the data portal and the planning of the music hackathon were running at full speed. With the data portal, we are providing insights into our collection in the digital space. The “Your Ocean Sound” hackathon challenges you to creatively engage with underwater noise pollution. We explain how the data portal supports a knowledge-based dialogue. You can also learn more in the upcoming Mediasphere Meetup!

Insights into the collection with the data portal

How do you imagine natural history collections - endless display cases, shelves and drawers, cool air and dusty registers? Natural history collection rooms are considered mysterious places that inspire curiosity but also disorientation. Making tiny insects, rare minerals, animal sounds and giant dinosaur bones easily accessible to the public and sharing knowledge about these objects is one of the main goals of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. In early 2021, the beta version of the data portal opened the door for the public to the collection in digital space with an initial selection of media. But what and how is everyone searching for? And who are the users in the first place? These were the guiding questions that accompanied the Mediasphere team at the heart of the development process. Not only scientists are interested in the collection, but also stakeholders from business, education, media and culture. For this reason, the portal offers a search function that can be adapted to individual needs.

Individual search with filters
Individual search with filters

Using filter combinations such as color spectrum, geodata, media types (image or audio files) and specific data fields, the data portal provides a customizable view into the collection. Creatives, for example, sort collection objects by color, while scientists search for taxonomic information. The flexible web design enables a mobile application, and the similarity search function also shows other similar objects that invite browsing and discovery.

Information and media can be queried automatically via an application programming interface (API). This provides a powerful way of integrating our media into your own interactive applications. With the help of the API, our data can also be used easily, e.g. for artificial intelligence applications, thus opening up new innovative fields of activity. More details will follow in one of our next blog posts.

For the hackathon, we established the sub-collection „Your Ocean Sound“
For the hackathon, we established the sub-collection „Your Ocean Sound“

The portal will be continuously filled with new entries and further developed with additional functionalities. In addition, the data portal supports the integration of more museum offerings.

Your Ocean Sound – the music hackathon

The hackathon “Your Ocean Sound” , which was developed in the project “Hearing In Penguins” , uses the data portal to foster an acoustic dialogue about the underwater relationship between humans and nature. Participants in the creative competition access compiled underwater recordings via the data portal , which they re-arrange in their compositions. The beauty and diversity of animal sounds and/or the stressful and disturbing abiotic noise sources, some of which are caused by humans, are thereby brought to the surface. Whale songs, sounds of cod, gurnard, and crab-eaters, of melting ice, the noise of calving glaciers, echo sounders, ship engines, and much more are available for countless combinations. On the one hand, the creative exploration of man-made noise and natural sounds creates awareness of underwater noise within society. On the other hand, the project promotes the participation and discussion among creative people in the discourse on noise pollution. In addition, the music hackathon provides a framework for the further development and presentation of their art and supports artists in the Corona pandemic.

Compositions can be submitted up to and including April 05. An expert jury of musicians, sound experts and bioacousticians will evaluate the compositions. The winners will be announced at the end of April during the “Week against Noise in the Sea” at the next Mediasphere Meetup. The competition will be supported with prize money totaling 1,000€.

Penguin recordings in Antarctica, photo: Michael Beaulieu
Penguin recordings in Antarctica, photo: Michael Beaulieu

Meetup

On April 26, 2021, the first Mediasphere Meetup of the year will take place (via Zoom) with a diverse program around the data portal and, in line with the hackathon, the topic of bioacoustics. We are also looking forward to not only announcing the winners of the “Your Ocean Sound” hackathon and listening in on their compositions, but also to the presentation of the selection criteria by representatives of the jury in person.

A detailed program and the registration for the Meetup will follow after Easter. We will share the link with our network via email, our social media channels as well as the Mediasphere blog. Fancy being there? Then get inspired by the underwater sounds and send us your compositions until April 05! Click here for the submission form .