Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

iPad App Adds Incidental Music to Your Life

Want to turn the mundane details of your day into a moving episode of This American Life? There’s an app for that.

  • May 21, 2010

Ever fancied yourself as a David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and Ira Glass–otherwise known as the brilliant, nebbishy hosts of NPR’s This American Life.

For this year’s Music Hack Day San Francisco, Dale Low and Brent Noorda reverse engineered their radio show. They discovered that the secret to making regular Joes and Janes sound profound is to liberally sprinkle emotionally charged musical interludes in between their otherwise unremarkable blather.

Here’s a picture of Dale telling a story so pedestrian that only an inanimate object (his iPad, pictured) could stand to listen.

(He’s actually using another app, Soundbiter, to do the recording.)

The team’s Hack Day app, The Profoundilizer, goes to work after he scans through the sound file, searching for a place to insert a musical cue. Before The Profoundilizer, he’d be forced to then embark on a laborious search for music of the right mood, and with appropriate rights attached.

Instead, the app pops open a search field that can accept natural language input. It scans music-sharing services cc:mixter and, if they ever finish the app, SoundCloud and Indaba.

Now he previews the sound file, drops it in if he likes it, and repeats the process a few more times. Next, as the developers put it, “Dale sees and hears that his original recording is now way more interesting. He is more interesting. He is profound.” And here’s the proof: The Profoundilized version of Dave’s day (streaming audio). It took him all of two and a half minutes to produce the piece using his app.

Those of you who would like to give This American Life a run for their money by Profoundilizing your own experiences should contact the developers directly.

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.