20,000 words under the C:

It’s Jules Verne year, the centenary of his death. Blogos has mixed feeings about celebrating the demise of this garrulous if entertaining writer.

The world of multilingual technology fixes has been badly treated by futurists of all kinds. All I could dredge up from Jules V was a banal echo in the nearly unreadable Tribulations of a Chinaman in China of Edison’s hope that recordable wax cylinders would replace handwritten letters. Edison was sort of right (voice mail), but wrong by a platform or two (he thought in terms of sending cylinders by escargot mail).

In hommage, how about this ingenious effort by Gnoetry, a statistical text analyser (+ human minder) that generates human/computer poetry from out-of-copyright texts in rank prose?

These twelve-line blank verse poems were composed with Gnoetry 0.2 and are based upon the statistical analysis of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The 0.2 interface allows the human collaborator to make choices by regenerating text on the word, phrase, sentence, and stanza levels; however, no post-composition edits were made by the human author, except where he found the words “continued” and “replied” as arguments for the insertion of quotation marks, capitalized proper names and italicized one foreign word.

A quick footnote. Looks as if the Gnoets are on the way to automating the cadavres exquis model of text production by generating poems out of a combination of two or more original texts.That silence-to-say-goodbye writer William Burroughs used to suggest that by interweaving (i.e. cutting up or folding in printed texts) texts from two different authors (Rimbaud and Newsweek would have been his sort of choice), you could generate a ‘third mind’, a form of random truth that emerges from such forced textual congress. 

Andrew Joscelyne
European, a language technology industry watcher since Electric Word was first published, sometime journalist, consultant, market analyst and animateur of projects. Interested in technologies for augmenting human intellectual endeavour, multilingual méssage, the history of language machines, the future of translation, and the life of the digital mindset.

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