History of sound: a Smart Audiobook for the Car

Image: https://beeldbank.rws.nl, Rijkswaterstaat / DVK-RWS

Project Leader:

Karin Bijsterveld


This project aims to develop a new type of audio book which focuses in both its form and content on the motorist. By making the audiobook—an audio CD plus downloadable files—partially GPS-based, the audio stories can match the scenery experienced by the motorist at a particular location on the road. In terms of content, the audiobook is about the history of sound in and around the car. Its three stories are intended to raise the environmental awareness of motorists. The first narrative traces the rise of the noise abatement movement in The Netherlands, and unravels how its campaigners paradoxically contributed to set the road free for the rather noisy car. The second story concerns the history of car radio, and explains how its role shifted with increasing traffic density and authorities starting to promote the use of radio traffic information. The third story is the one actually intended for the GPS-based part of the audiobook. It is a guided tour along the noise screens at both sides of the Dutch highway A2, with historical, acoustical and architectural information. In addition, the three stories function as case studies for a theory on the role of coalitions around campaign texts, media formats and built artefacts in innovation. In the project, Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will collaborate with the Dutch Institute for Image and Sound (Hilversum) and publishing-firm Rubinstein (Amsterdam). Maastricht University has knowledge of and will do additional research into the history of sound. Image and Sound provides relevant historical audio materials. Rubinstein, market leader in Dutch-language audio books, will take care of the production and marketing of the audio book. Together, these partners will organize three workshops to prepare for a consortium that aims to submit an additional grant proposal about technically developing GPS-based audio books. In doing so, they hope to make use of the innovation-theoretical insights that draw on the case studies.

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