(Roughly) Daily

All together now!…


The song “Daisy Bell” (aka, “Daisy, Daisy”), written by Harry Dacre in 1892, was famously used in 1961 by Max Mathews, John Kelly, and Carol Lockbaumas as the first example of computer-synthesized voice (an accomplishment to which Stanley Kubrick paid homage in 1968 when he had HAL sing “Daisy Bell” at the end of 2001, A Space Odyssey).

Now Aaron Koblin and Daniel Massey have created the Web 2.0 version:  Bicycle Built For 2,000…  Koblin and Massey used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service,  prompting workers (folks from 71 different countries, who were paid $ .06 per pop) to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard.  Koblin and Massey then synthesized the submissions…

… which readers can hear the results here.

As we clear our throats, we might cast a wistful thought back to this date in 1852, when Henry Wells and William G. Fargo joined with several other investors to launch their eponymously-named cross-country freight business.  The California gold rush had created an explosive new need, which Wells, Fargo and other “pony express” and stage lines leapt to meet.  It was after the Civil War, in 1866, when Wells, Fargo acquired many of their competitors, that it became the dominant supplier.  (Ever flexible, they adapted again three years later, when the transcontinental railroad was finished.)

From it’s earliest days, it also functioned as a bank, factoring the shipments of gold that it carried.  Indeed, when Wells, Fargo exited the freight business as a result of government nationalization of freight during World War I, the bank (which merged with Nevada National in the first of a series of “transformative transactions”) continued to operate as “Wells, Fargo,” as indeed it does (albeit under unrecognizably evolved ownership) today.

It remains to be seen whether Wells, Fargo will exit the increasingly nationalized banking business.


Written by LW

March 18, 2009 at 1:01 am

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