Prepare your ears for Wikipedia’s ‘sound of all human knowledge’

With more and more information being delivered via audio sources like voice assistants, the Wikimedia Foundation thought it was time to adopt a so-called “sound logo” for Wikipedia and its other projects. Think of it as Wikipedia’s equivalent of the Netflix “ta-dum,” the HBO “aaaaaaah,” or Intel’s iconic five-note chime. After an exhaustive search via “Sound of All Human Knowledge” contest, Wikimedia thinks it found an audio clip representing its mission.

The winning entry was submitted by Thaddeus Osborne, a nuclear engineer and part-time music producer from Virginia, USA. Here’s how he describes the sound:

“My sound logo welcomes its audience into a world of information. The sound of a page turning quickly becomes a library like a whirlwind of typing, clicking, and paper rustling that promises vast stores of wisdom followed by a friendly invitation. This is what I perceive the Wikimedia movement to be about, the open and encouraged sharing of knowledge. Lots and lots of knowledge.”

Have a listen for yourself:

Osborne’s was one of 3,235 submissions that came in from 2,094 participants across 135 countries last year. Wikimedia community members helped to whittle these submissions down, and eventually 10 audio clips were presented for a vote.

Although the winning sound has now been chosen, the audio above isn’t exactly what you’ll hear alongside Wikimedia’s content in the future. For starters, the organization says the winning sound will now need to be professionally re-recorded in a studio (Osborne will get a trip to the studio alongside his $2,500 prize money). It’ll also produce different versions of the sound for use in different contexts (like a short 2-second version for social media posts, for example, or a longer 60-second composition for event videos). 

“Later this year, we will continue working with voice assistant and technology partners to adopt the winning logo to better identify Wikimedia content worldwide,” Wikimedia says in a press release. 

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