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Surveillance Music

The days of online anonimity are now long gone. What used to be an open and free environment for exchanging ideas and information is becoming more and more restrictive and undemocratic as governments and corporations increase their efforts to control the online world.
The most publicly apparent application is corporate surveillance. Corporate surveillance is the name of the large scale data gathering and psychoanalysis that companies do in order to more effectively advertise products. Almost every online action is saved and analysed to draw any conclusion possible about every aspect of an individual. For a more in-depth look into corporate surveillance, Wolfie Christl released a good report for cracked labs.
It seems that most of people don’t care enough about this, even if they know the severity of it (myself included). I still use services that I know sell my personal information, because not doing so would result in alienation from many social contexts.
Anyway, I decided to make computer surveillance less depressing and more entertaining than what the sensionalistic nature of contemporary media usually do. This is my so tremendously aptly named project - Surveillance Music. It’s a generative music system that spies on computer usage and uses the data it collects as a basis for composition.
The information it gathers is the following:

  • Keystrokes and frequently used words
  • Screenshots
  • Webcam pictures
  • Microphone audio
  • Mouse movements

While the mass surveillance going on on the internet isn’t this thorough (probably), it is slightly difficult to get access to their gathered data as a mere mortal.

Tech details

Surveillance Music consists of two separate parts, one for the surveillance, and one for the audio.
The surveillance part was written in python and is responsible for gathering and translating the data to be more suitable for composition. It then sends this information via the OSC protocol to SuperCollider which generates the audio.

More details and downloads are available on github.