Monthly Archives: July 2011

David Community Fellowship: United Sounds By Alex Stiver

This is a guest post by one of the SoundCloud Community Fellows, Alex Stiver.

“The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Who Am I?

Hi, I’m Alex, a proud member of the first cohort of SoundCloud Fellows!  I hail from the great city of Toronto and, fitting squarely into a Northern stereotype, love both maple syrup and snowy winters (they’re even great together!).  I feel equally passionately – though less nationalistic – about road trips, iced coffee, and hip pop dance parties.

I’m a social anthropologist, which means that I am fascinated by how people behave in social groups.  Studying the variety, the patterns, and the head-scratching contradictions of social life has led me to interesting project work in branding and strategy, in research, and in public sector initiatives.  I’m revved up by demographics, digital anthropology, and trying to identify the underlying logic of social behaviour.  The conclusion of these social studies – that we’re all the same…but different, but, well…the same? – is also what inspired an interest in human rights.  And this project.

My Fellowship Project

My first introduction to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was under less-than-perfect circumstances: a World Studies class pop quiz.  Even then, my pre-teen self recognized the importance of the Declaration’s message for human rights.

Flash-forward to present day: older, a little wiser, and minus a boy band-plastered locker.  Through the study of anthropology, in researching policy, and in crafting public sector communications, I can appreciate much more fully the challenges in, and the benefits of, a text like the UDHR, one that works to define and outline the concepts of “human rights” and “fundamental freedoms” for everyone.   Since its adoption in 1948, the UDHR has been standing firm as a global statement on human rights: inspiring and supporting rights movements, influencing national constitutions, and contributing to international law.

Translated in 370 languages and dialects, the UDHR is not only the most widely translated text in the world, but is also a great unifier, providing solidarity of message through varied sounds from all corners of the world.  It’s an important message; it’s an optimistic message; it’s a universal message.  Only downside?   An easily accessible archive of the translations in audio is tough to find online.

Enter the United_Sounds project.

Embracing the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy, the aim of United_Sounds is: to create the largest online collection of audio recordings of the UDHR, representing as many translations as possible.

Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that “an essential element in protecting human rights [is] a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended”.  With your help, United_Sounds can be part of that engaging and educating effort.

Beyond an archive of audio recordings, the project is structured to promote critical listening, careful contemplation, collaborative discussion, and crucial learning.  But United_Sounds is only as successful as the community rallying around it: that’s YOU!

Get Involved!

So…proud of your Pipil, master of Maori, the dude of Dutch?  Know someone who wants to flex their Mazateco muscles, chat in Cebuano, or yammer in Yoruba?  There are many ways to get involved with United_Sounds: record your own submission, add a comment about your favourite excerpt, listen to the different rhythm and cadence of the various participating languages, even submit an audio message about what human rights mean to you in your country!

Join the project

on SoundCloud

on Twitter

…and get involved!

Links to get you started

As one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations, and with numbers of global speakers estimated as high as 1.8 billion (yep,billion), the English translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights kicks off the United_Sounds project.

UN Declaration of Human Rights: English by katieneeds

Though the message of the UDHR is the same across all 370 translations, the sounds of the Declaration in Icelandic might be less familiar to the ear.  Give it a listen, and leave a note in the comments sharing what you think.

UN Declaration of Human Rights: Icelandic Mannréttindayfirlýsing Sameinuðu Þjóðanna by valahalldorsdottir

Finally: pumped up to get involved with United_Sounds?  Got some linguistic skillz that you – or someone you know – can’t wait to put to good use.  Learn about the submission process here.

Sound Note #2: 6 Easy Steps to Recording Your Own Contribution to United_Sounds! by United_Sounds

Meet the other fellows:

Katie Needs and her Sounds Of My City project

Eduardo Lipe and his Without Walls project

David Community Fellowship: Without Walls By Eduardo Lipe

This is a guest post by one of the SoundCloud Community Fellows, Eduardo Lipe.

Who am I?

Hello everyone! My name is Eduardo (or Eddie whatever floats your boat) and I am a part of the first class of Community Fellows!

I’m a New Yorker by birth although I’ve called Pennsylvania my home (away from home) almost a decade. I just graduated college, NYU to be specific, with a BA in Art History. While in college I was a brother of Delta Lambda Phi, Beta Xi Chapter to be exact. Now DLP isn’t your regular fraternity, its the national social fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men. While I was a brother I helped devise programs for recruitment as well as lent my Photoshop skills for marketing materials. I also am an editor for Born Like This, a website where teens speak to other teens who are coming to terms with themselves. On a more selfish note I am a pop culture intellectual and an ambassador for all things pop music. I also love art, visual culture, social media, and technology in general. Enough about me though, onto the project!

My Fellowship Project:

As an art history major we always studied several aspects of art; the technical, the social, and yes its historical importance. Although we touched on all of these points I have always wanted to study the social interaction with art. So when I signed up for the SoundCloud fellowship I wanted to create a project where I could explore that further and thus the Without Walls Project was born. Being from New York I thought what better place to make the epicenter of my project?

Under the Without Walls Project I will be venturing into neighborhoods in New York City – and beyond – looking high and low for public art which can range from sculptures in parks to elaborate graffiti on street corners. I want to see how the surroundings around a particular artwork can change how its audience interacts with it. For example how does a busy intersection create a different scene from a public park? I also want these maps to become a resource for all the urban scavengers, art enthusiasts, and tourists who come across them and decide to take a stroll through a new or familiar neighborhood. After I collect sounds I’ll be making maps for all of the neighborhoods I visit and with the help of ThingLink I’ll be combining both the audio and the visual. If I’m lucky on these outings I’ll also be adding candid audience reactions to these art works, we all love candid moments no?

Get involved?

Want to become a part of the project? Participation from you guys is an essential piece! If you come across any cool public art in New York or in your very own city I want to hear the sounds around it! Got any reactions to any piece of public art you come across on the blog or in your daily life? Record it and send it my way. Just follow the link and it’ll tell you everything you need to know!

Follow Without Walls:

Twitter: @withoutwallspjt

Here are some of the first recordings I’ve made for Without Walls:

“Andy Warhol” by Robert Pruitt by withoutwalls

Rob Pruitt’s tribute to Andy Warhol can be found in one of New York’s most popular destinations, Union Square. I like this recording because it catches the essence of Union Square at lunch time on a summer afternoon. While I observed the interaction around the sculpture I witnessed a lot of quick glances and lingering. Oh New York, always on the go.

“Echo” by Jaume Plensa by withoutwalls

Jaume Plensa’s sculpture is smack in the middle of Madison Square Park, home to the amazing Shake Shack! You can hear a major difference around this sculpture as opposed to Warhol. The city almost seems to fade away and you can hear nature begin to take over. As I sat and observed this space much more people were tempted to stop and read the plaque talking about the sculpture.

Jordan Betten “High Lines” by withoutwalls

This one is a bit of preview but that never hurt anyone! I love this one because its one of the first artworks I found that was a sudden find. I found this one as I was taking a stroll on the High Line, one of my favorite spots in the city! This particular piece was on the roof of one of the buildings bordering the elevated park! One of my favorite moments in recording is the French family that notices the work and talk about it and take pictures of it. One of the things I love about NYC is how multicultural it can be.

Meet the other fellows:

Katie Needs and her Sounds Of My City project

David Fun Friday: Meet Cory Levinson

Hey Guys! Happy Friday, please help me welcome new Analytics and Marketing intern Cory Levinson!

Hey hey Cory!

Hey hey Natatlie!

So Cory, can you tell us what your your role at SoundCloud is? Also, how do you like working in the Berlin HQ?

I’m an intern on the marketing & analytics team. Writing code (yay ruby!) to better access, organize, and analyze all the oodles of data that we have. Google Analytics, SQL, the good stuff…I’ve also been working on some recommendation algorithms to help better connect Soundcloud community. The Berlin HQ is pretty awesome. Tight space, but the energy here is real- everyone just seems to be really excited and passionate about what they’re doing individually as well as what Soundcloud is all about.

You have been studying abroad in Europe for a bit, but you are originally from the US, how was re-locating to Berlin?

Ya, I had been studying out in Belfast since January, and once my studies finished up there I came straight to Berlin. The first few weeks were a bit rough getting settled, spending each day creeping on flatsearch websites trying to find a place to live. I was fortunate enough to have a few friends already out here who let me couch crash for a bit until I found a place. (Thanks Henning!)

How did you get introduced to SoundCloud and what do you love most about it?

I just kept seeing those super fly widgets everywhere and eventually signed up to start putting some of my own music on there and fell in love. Favorite feature- the dashboard is pretty awesome IMO.

What are your favorite Sounds on the cloud?

Brandon Biondo from the band COOLRUNNINGS always seems to be doing tons of awesome stuff. He runs a sweet free netlabel called Dracula Horse (, and this is a recent track of his that really got me grooving. Chrome Sparks is a buddy of mine from Ann Arbor, MI who just had his first big release this past Sunday called My <3. This one track featuring Steffaloo has been on constant repeat for me all week, like whoah.

Can you give us a few reasons why it is kick ass to work at SoundCloud?

1- I love sound; 2- People here are wicked cool; 3- roof terrace!

Finally, do you have any fun facts about yourself that you would like to share?

I can unicycle. I am a max/msp geek. I love green tea.

Social Interwebz:
Thanks Cory! Don’t forget to say hello in the comments!