“Visualising” High Frequency Trading With Sound (Sonification)

Over the summer, an episode of one of my favourite audio/radio programmes, the OU co-produced Radio 4 programme More or Less included a package on high frequency trading. To illustrate how fast high frequency trading works, the programme used a beautiful bit of sonification (the audio equivalent of a graphical data visualisation). You can listen to it on iPlayer here: How fast is high-frequency trading?

Just in case it’s blocked outside the UK, here’s a version I cropped from the downloaded podcast myself [MP3]:

Tim Harford, presenter of the programme, also wrote about high frequency trading here: High-frequency trading and the $440m mistake. Interestingly, the article also includes the audio package… Here’s a link to the original programme on iPlayer: How to lose money, fast

A couple of weeks prior to the More or Less programme (coincidence? Or inspiration?) a blog post about a data sketch done by NYT’s incredibly creative Amanda Cox referred to a similar audio technique to illustrate(?!) close finishes in sprint races: Why Amanda Cox should be in charge of audio. The post also referred back to a New York Times piece from February 2012 capturing just how closely some of the 2010 Winter Olympics race finished: Fractions of a Second: An Olympic Musical.

So now I’m wondering – have you ever seen, erm, heard a presentation that has used audio, rather than graphics, to illustrate a data story?

See also: Robot wars: How high frequency trading changed global markets.