our next overhaul

our next overhaul

As wikiGong enters its twelfth year, it’s time to grow up and slim down. We’ll soon port most of our sound libraries to other sites, dump unused platform features, and get back to field exploration.

Why? Because change happens. A decade in internet time being akin to a whole era in geology, the landscape overwhelms the roadmap every few months. Our mission has matured a bit in the past eleven years, but remains stable at its core; our vision, meanwhile, is clearer:

  • The web now has a few established, well-known, free repositories for field recordings and other sounds. We don’t need to maintain our own.
  • HTML5 solved most of the streaming-media challenges we faced back before 2010. We believe available blogging platforms are sufficient.
  • Collaboration is unlikely in the face of perceived barriers to entry. The chance to learn wiki markup, for example, attracted no contributors. Nor, for that matter, did our use of ccHost.
  • A site dedicated to slow, deep listening and averse to advertising is an unlikely winner in the web’s current attention-economy lottery. We’re better focused on our own projects than on raising our web profile.

Coordinating a patchwork of open-source web apps is time-consuming and expensive: our successes were seldom elegant and often disappointingly fleeting. We’ll streamline our hosting needs by switching to a single well-supported platform for our web presence. We’ll move reusable content to well-known media sites and stop maintaining an obscure niche archive. We’ll plug one set of security holes instead of three.

wikiGong.com will once more highlight the sounds of nature and civilization, with occasional news updates on what we’re doing with the material. We’ll remain ad-free and remix-friendly. Once available funds run dry, we’ll wrap up the project and archive the site, which a simplified setup should expedite nicely.

practical steps

Things should happen in roughly this order:

  • wikiGong/Sounds contents will be relocated.
    • Field recordings will be ported to freesound or ccMixter. These will be in the highest-quality, lossless-compressed format for reuse.
    • Lossy previews of recordings referenced in the blog pages may be copied to the blog media database if playing in-line from other locations turns out to be impractical.
    • Song files will be moved to Soundcloud, ccMixter, or our blog pages, as appropriate.
    • Orphans will be ported to the blog database.
    • Redirects will be placed for wikiGong/Sounds and blog and wiki header menus will be updated.
    • Our ccHost application will be discontinued.
  • wikiGong Main content will be converted.
    • Referenced files in the MediaWiki database will be ported to our blog media database.
    • Wiki pages–especially as-yet unported “travelogues”–will be converted to blog pages.
    • Redirects will be placed for wikiGong Main and wiki header menus finalized.
    • Our MediaWiki application will be discontinued.
  • wikiGong.com will get its next facelift.
  • wikiGong.com pages will be archived in some future-appropriate format.
  • Web pages will become irrelevant.
  • Entropic heat-death of the universe…


In the course of doing this, we’ll be experimenting a bit. We intend to update this post occasionally with news and previews of how things might work.

first attempts

For example, can we use freesound’s API easily or must we write some javascript first? Let’s try it:

Result of just pasting a freesound URL to a .wav file using the block editor

Hmmm. No sound. Clearly needs work… What if we let the blog platform figure it out?

Error message on trying to “embed”

Oh, well. “Convert to link” yields:


That’ll take you to the sound’s page at freesound.org, but it won’t play from the page here. How about an mp3? (I have to use someone else’s, for now…)

Nope. And attempting to “embed”…

Nope (with apologies to Matt Duffy for unwitting guinea pig duty)

But maybe…just maybe…we can use the preview URL that freesound vends to a browser? That’s “https://freesound.org/data/previews/277/277324_5330055-lq.mp3” for our first test file (it took a little manual sleuthing to find):

D A Ayer 150621_00.WAV from freeSound.org

It works. But is this a stable permalink or a dynamic thing? And how (when) will we know? Clearly this is going to be a lot of fun.

update 2020-01-31

We’ve managed to upload the fourteen samples from our early 2010 soundwalks in Sweden. Let’s see whether they’re all there and easy enough to reference and annotate…

Below are previews of the sounds along with links to their freesound.org download pages:

Bronze Stockholm 00 Actress 02

I can’t exactly give the WordPress block editor kudos for speed but will eventually gin up an HTML template that should work. I’m also unclear on whether blocks can be embedded in lists, or how easily; an area for future exploration. For now, this works.

One interesting discovery is the embedded playback machines are automatically instantiated as separate players and can be run concurrently. This makes this display format interesting, if a bit tricky.


…is everything. We’d like to be free of the hassles as soon as possible, with minimal content loss. How long that takes will be another exploration. Wish us luck.