Soundscapes On The Emacspeak Audio Desktop

1 Executive Summary

Emacspeak module soundscape adds the ability to automatically switch Soundscapes based on the current buffer. A Soundscape can be any continuously playing stream of audio; in practice, using nature sounds that repeat softly in a pseudo-random manner appears to be effective. Soundscapes are activated based on the currently active Emacs Major Mode and as a consequence directly mirror the user's current activity. The present implementation uses Python package Boodler to generate soundscapes.

2 Usage

Note that package soundscape.el does not have any Emacspeak dependencies. See the package documentation for details on installing and configuring Boodler.

You can experiment with installed Boodler agents using command soundscape and soundscape-stop. You can enable and disable automatic soundscapes using command soundscape-toggle. The currently active default Soundscape theme can be inspected via command soundscape-theme — this produces a buffer that lists the currently defined /major-mode -> Soundscape mapping.

Package soundscape.el considers the inheritance relationship among Emacs major-modes when computing the set of soundscapes to activate.As an example, eww-mode inherits from special-mode — as a consequence, two soundscapes (LightWind and BackgroundWaves) become active when reading Web content.

3 Default Major-Mode->Soundscape (Mood) Mapping:

Here is a table showing the mapping of major-mmodes to Soundscape moods at the time of writing. For readability, I have stripped out the package-name for these soundscapes.

Soundscape (Mood) List Of Major Modes
BuddhaLoop fundamental
LightStorm special
RainForever Info help Man Custom messages-buffer
LightWind comint elfeed-search
TonkSpace tabulated-list
Cavern prog
Drip message gnus-summary gnus-article gnus-group mspools vm-presentation vm mail twittering jabber-roster jabber-chat erc
Still text
Water dired
Steady calendar diary
BackgroundWaves w3 eww

4 Soundscape Research

I implemented package soundscape.el to create a platform that would let me experiment with different tools that aid in concentration. After using Soundscapes for about a week, I have also found that it reduces some of the fatigue that results from having to listen to synthetic text-to-speech for extended periods. The true value (if any) of this package will be a function of how heavily I find myself using it six months from now — as a metric, complete success might mean that in mid-2016, I still have automatic soundscapes turned on. As I type this article in Emacs org-mode, I hear the sound of water-drops falling softly in the background, and I take note that I have not switched tasks for the entire time I have spent writing this article.

Other success metrics — harder to measure — might include how effective Soundscapes are in helping the user stay focused on a given activity for extended periods of time. In an ever-connected world buzzing with a constant stream of distractions ranging from incoming email and instant-messages to a flood of twitter updates, this is likely the most relevant metric.

Date: <2015-12-18 Fri>

Author: T.V Raman

Created: 2015-12-22 Tue 13:13