By Marius Watz - Mail to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Last updated: January 7th 1997 (created August 3rd 1994)
The writing of texts has always been a domain dominated by humans, for
obvious reasons. Even computers, data-processors by nature, have been hard put
to invade this field. The data made up of human text is highly codified and
convoluted meanings. One might argue that human language is fractal, since every
word has mappings into other parts of the language, often self-referential or
relying on a real-life context, making "dumb" translation of the map
But even though making the computer understand human codes is hard, making it
manipulate them is not. The approach of letting the computer manipulate texts as
symbols is interesting both from a literary and philosophical point of view. One
use of this approach is interactive text generation in order to simulate
dialogue, as seen in the arch-typical Eliza type of programs or any
program attempting to brave the Turing test.
Another approach is to use software to produce text, either by synthesizing
from pre-existing text or by using dictionaries and rules for sentence
construction. The result may often resemble cut-up techniques such as those
employed by the Dadaists or W.S.Burroughs, or they may pose as texts somehow
created by alien modes of intelligence, vaguely familiar yet profoundly
puzzling. Either way, the use of the computer to generate texts challenges the
very nature of the text and the role of the author. But the texts in themselves
can also be beautiful.
This page is meant to be a storing space for computer-generated writing (CGW)
and information about the field in general. All contributions are more than
welcome, since there is so little information easily available. Pointers to
material or texts can be sent to me, email@example.com I am maintaining
this page out of sheer curiosity, and I would be delighted to see what you have
to show and share.
- Work by Robert "R.S." Pearson
of CIGARETTE BOY: A MOCK MACHINE MOCK-EPIC, an experimental novel
by Darick Chamberlin that poses as machine-written text. Review by @Man
Poetry by Justin McHale, created by use of the Mark V. Chaney
program found in the software section.
- A mangled
text by Kevin Carhart, made with the Mac program TextMangler
- "Further Last Words of Dutch Schultz", compiled by Ficus Strangulensis and
Stuart Pid. Dutch Schultz' failing words made even stranger...
Publications, an anti-publishing house publishing anti-books. Originator
of "Further Last Words of Dutch Schultz", above.
- KOMNINOS's Cyberpoetry
page contain experiments with animated text, concrete poetry, artificial
speech and a lot of other things...
- Rob Pike has done a version
of Jean Baudrillard's essay `The Precession of Simulacra',
processed by the Mark V.
- Have a look at my own text
filtering page (part of my form
gallery), where I've used filters to generate Postscript files from text
files, either creating a new representation of the text or doing dictionary
lookups to replace words etc. This is with a visual aesthetic in mind rather
than a literary one, but interesting nonetheless.
- Not strictly computer-generated, but computer-controlled text is
brilliantly used in an "elastic
catalogue" for MIT Media Lab's News in the Future consortium. They
use Java technology to "dynamically arrange text in a seamless animated
display to provide context and guide the viewer through the collection of
- The Aesthetics & Computation
group at MIT does very interesting work with computation-based design and
- Adam Zaretsky has sent me some texts (here
using OCR to deliberately mangle texts. His description of the method is here.
Resources Related to Computer-Generated Writing
- Charabia, a site dedicated to
online french-speaking random text generation (also known as "Génération
automatique de textes aléatoires")
- CMU AI
Repository, which contains information that might be interesting.
of research on Natural Language Generation
- The Inscription Project, a
project aiming to take a look at the history of writing and bring it into a
modern perspective, including computer-generated writing.
- The Racter
FAQ (maintained by Jorn
Barger.) Racter, a commercial program by John Owens, is one of the
most advanced interactive text generators developed so far. The FAQ also
includes information on Inrac, a compiler for generating texts
according to a sort of programming language.
- The A.Word.A.Day
server runs a great service where each day a vocabulary word is presented
with its definition and occasional commentary. People can subscribe to a
mailing list to get the word of the day automatically. Other services
available by mail are Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronym, Anagram and
Rhyme-N-Reason. For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word
"help" in the body.
- A Linguistics
page maintained by Matterform
Media, containing pointers to online dictionaries and similar linguistic
- The Surrealism
Server, which contains information about automatic writing and other
- On a similar note, the Dada
server. See especially the games page.
- Information about Julia the Chatterbot, a
program set up to enter the Loebner Contest for
Artificial Intelligence. The page includes information on the general problem
of setting up a conversational robot to fool a human, as well as describing
some of Julia's specific tricks.
- Eastgate Systems, a noted
manufacturer of software for hypertext.
- Some pointers to hypertext fiction,
maintained by Prentiss Riddle.
- Infolipo (in French) is a
Swiss-based atelier for the creation of computer-aided writing as well as
self-generating texts. The Infolipo web site is maintained by Ambroise Barras,
and contains information about their activities as well as examples of work
done in the atelier.
- R.S Pearson maintains pages
on Paramind Brainstorming software and other relevant information. He also has
a poetry & prose page, containing computer-generated texts.
- Charles O. Hartman
has written a book called "Virtual Muse -
Experiments in Computer Poetry", which deals with computer-generated
writing. He has also written a program called MacProse, which you can download
from his home page.
- Ole Vilhelm Larsen has written a dissertation on "Computing
order-independent statistical characteristics of stochastic context-free
languages". It includes a description of the "Markov chain
model for stochastic linear languages".
- The TextEval
project aims to perform automatic evaluation of computer-generated text,
especially as used in translation of natural languages.
Software for Computer-Generated Writing
Thanks for Forrest Richey for providing a lot of the programs found here.
Pointers to more of the same are received with gratefulness.
Note that I make no guarantees that any given piece of software that can be
downloaded from thee pages will work on your machine. I have only experimented
with a few of them, and your mileage may vary...
World Wide Web
CGW is well suited to the WWW, where script-generated text can be delivered
on-the-fly. If there are more such scripts around than are listed here, please
report them to me.
- Decoder-a-go-go, a
nifty Web script that acts a filter between you and WWW pages, mashing them
into gibberish while maintaining the structure of the Web page you are looking
at. For instance, try this link
to see this page all mangled up. Or try this link
to see it mangle the page several times, using its own output as input.
- A nice implementation of the Swedish Chef
mock-Swedissh seen originally on the Muppets Show. A script lets you
type in text to be mangled.
generates poems in the style of the expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Created by
Michael Herrick of Matterform
- Colin, an Eliza-type system
with emphasis on the Internet and computing.
- Postmodern Thesis
Generator, by Andrew Bulhak.
It generates mock theses on "postmodern" topics, complete with footnotes.
- Rant, a
CGI script based upon the UNIX rant program, adapted for WWW by Erik Wistrand.
- Abuse-a-tron, your
- hAIku v.1.0, a
Haiku program for WWW. For more Haiku programs, see the web-ku page
that accompanies it.
- Get your dose of daily
nonsense, generated by use of Markov Chains by Lawrence Hosken.
- Some Surrealist games,
on the excellent Hypermedia Research
a text-generating program using Markov chains, created by Marc Donis.
- CatchPhrase, a Java applet that random phrases based on
built-in word lists. Quote: "Occasionally, very occasionally, it spits out
something amusing. But then, perhaps you're easily amused."
- K@rlheinz Essl has made a Lexicon-Oracle
which "will reveal some of the infinite secrets of the realtime composition
Lexikon-Sonate, pondering about problems of algorithmic composition and
postmodern philosophy, in a never repeating, always mind-challenging way. When
your Browser is capable of dealing with MIDI (such as Netscape 3.0 with the
LiveAudio Plug-in), you will also hear some surprising excerpts of the
the Swedish chef as a lex script, easily compiled into a filter.
a text-generating program using Markov chains, comes with full source code and
even a Sun4 binary.
All these programs come compressed in the ZIP format.
Generator, a generator of nonsensical poems based on the traditional
approach of looking up dictionaries and sentence syntax definitions.
- ParaMind, a
commercial brainstorming system using text manipulation.
- Mark V.
Chaney V1.0, a probabilistic text generator based on Markov chains.
a babble generator with a million options. In additions to generating random
texts according to analyzed text files, it can apply "filters" such as
dyslexia, stuttering, code etc., modifying the output further.
a linguistic program for analyzing words from different languages and
determining if they are likely to be derived from each other.
1.0, a simple language translator based on word-to-word mapping. Given a
nonsensical mapping, it might be used to twist texts.
A very good source of text-processing programs is the info-mac archive of
text utilities. Check out their hypertext
All the following programs have been BinHex'ed. Some are compressed with
Compactor Pro in addition, to reduce size.
a program to twist text into something similar to the gibberish uttered by the
Swedish chef on the Muppets. Bork bork bork.
a program to generate new text probabilistically based on an input text.
[Note: I haven't gotten this program to work, since it crashes my mac.]
Master, a Hypercard stack to generate Haiku
Phrase Generator, a simple phrase generator intended to produce Wall
Street obfuscated catchphrases.
Poetry 3.1 a Hypercard stack capable of generating poems and pictures
according to Merz' DaDa rules.
Dictionary, a dictionary of human-generated neologisms (i.e. new words
constructed by combining suffixes and prefixes in a new manner.)
a Hypercard stack for randomly generating neologisms, not just based on
prefixes and suffixes but also on syllables.
1.2, a program for mangling texts based on Markov chains working on words.
a Hypercard stack based on a DOS program that will generate sentences based on
fixed phrases and variable syntax. The subject of the sentences include
Chomskyan grammar, Software Development and Folklore Research.
- Matterform Media have several
Hypercard stacks available for download here, including a poetry simulator
called "Trakl'Bigi", and a conversations simulator called "Hot Springs".
Created by Michael Herrick.
- RoboRiter is a
poetry machine, available from the home page of its creator, Douglas L.
- HexOn Exon is a
way around the Communications Decency Act, from Lamprey Systems.
- MacProse, written by Charles O. Hartman, can be downloaded from his home page.
Last updated: January 7th 1997 (created August 3rd 1994)
Marius Watz - Mail to: mailto:email@example.com