NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

ca - 3500 BC __ Auditing — An early form of data sonification
Comment : The presence of auditing (“hearing of accounts” from the Latin “auditus”) has been inferred from records of Mesopotamian civilizations going back as early as 3500 BCE. To ensure that the Pharaoh was not being cheated, auditors compared the “soundness” of strictly independently scribed accounts of commodities moving in, out and remaining in warehouses (Boyd 1905). In the alternating intoning of such lists, differences can be easily identified aurally. A faster and more secure method that eliminates any “copy-cat” syndrome in such alternation, is to have the scribes read the records simultaneously-a type of modulation differencing technique. While we have no evidence that these techniques were practiced in ancient times, such a suggestion does not seem unreasonable, and would represent possibly the earliest form of data sonification. (David Worrall [This reference is an inference of Boyd’s account by Worrall])The etymology of auditing (“hearing of accounts”) and audit is coming from the Latin “auditus” (hearing) and “audire” (hear). It can be most commonly defined as an temporary or continuous, and systematic evaluation of given activities, processes, series of states, and fluxes & variations of an organization, system, enterprise, storehouse, project or product. We could find origins of such an activity into official examination of accounts (or lists of items, goods or products it’s necessary to follow, to manage and to survey the movements and variations) and records of commercial transactions, realised on ancient times by scribes and superintendents. These examinations originally were oral procedures which later or at the same time accompanied writing and recording. The terms “audit” and “auditor” (that appears in the XIVth century) are still used today, and we can point out and notice that auditing processes are mainly based on interviews and oral examinations in order to verify and to do a synthesis of observed processes. To do an audit of an activity or a service is the act of “listening” to the different actors and elements in order to understand or to develop a comprehension of a existing system or a system to set up. By extension, hearing and listening methods are used also in some verification and checking processes & scrutinies of a given field involving a big quantity of data such as codes in programmings (listening to the code lines of a program) or long lists of items, in order to detect anomalies or anomalous aspecs. That joins also the activity of “auscultation”, commonly used in medecine and in different domains (mechanics, etc.). Even if the result is not sonorous, auditing and auscultation are in the vicinity of data sonification. (Jérôme Joy, 2010)« [...] We can look back on civilised communities existing more than 5000 years before Christ [...] [in order to find earliest organisations which] must have been necessary to collect and account for the public revenues, and an inquiry into the methods of accounting in use among peoples of antiquity, and the arrangements for administering state property, may be of interest before we enter upon the investigation of the history of accounts proper [and of auditing]. [...] A large number of business records has come down to us from the period beginning about 2600 B.C., dealing with sales, letting, hiring, money-lending, partnership, etc. The medium employed by the scribe in preparing these records was clay, an abundant supply of which was ready at hand. He wrote with a stylus on a small slab, sufficiently moist to receive an impression easily, and sufficiently firm to prevent the impression from becoming blurred or effaced, and then he made the record permanent by baking or sun-drying the slab. [...] "The tablets recording their transactions vary in size from three quarters of an inch by half an inch to nine inches by twelve. They are usually covered with writing on both sides, and sometimes on the edges as well. Many contain no date, and these, on examination, prove to be either rough memoranda, lists of objects or produce, or letters. The more important transactions were re-copied on larger tablets with great care and elaboration of details. These larger tablets usually contain impressions from cylinder seals, and nailmarks, which were considered to be a man's natural seal" (In Richard Brown, "Records of the Past", Chapter XI, In “A History of Accounting and Accountants”). [...] In ancient Egypt, [...] the scribe, as in Babylonia, was the mainspring of the administrative machinery. His qualifications consisted in a knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, and elementary book-keeping. [...] The territory belonging to each town and district was frequently surveyed. The surveyors recorded in their books the name of each estate, the name of the proprietor, those of the owners of adjoining lands, and the area and nature of the ground. This information enabled the scribes to regulate the assessment of the land tax. ». (Edward Boyd, Chapter 2 - Ancient Systems of Accounting, 1905)
Source : Worrall, David (2009). Sonification and Information - Concepts, Instruments and Techniques. PhD thesis, University of Canberra, p. 2-1.
Source : Boyd, Edward (1905). “Ancient Systems of Accounting”, and “History of Auditing”. In “A History of Accounting and Accountants”, edited by Richard Brown, Chapter II & Chapter IV. Edinburgh: T.L & E.C. Jack and Augustus M. Kelley Publishers; and also : General Books LLC publication, 2009, pp. 13-17 and pp. 55-67.
Source : Rogers, Robert William (1901), “A History of Babylonia and Assyria”, Vol. 1, New York : Eaton & Mains.
Urls : http://www.avatar.com.au/papers/phd/index.html (last visited ) http://www.archive.org/details/historyofbabylon01rogeuoft (last visited ) http://www.archive.org/details/historyofbabylon02rogeuoft (last visited ) http://debs.indstate.edu/r262a4_1922.pdf (last visited )

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