Academic journal article Chicago Review

Can a Computer Make a Period Style Obsolete?

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Can a Computer Make a Period Style Obsolete?

Article excerpt

The poems in this issue by Gnoetry and Eric P. Elshtain were written in a little over eight minutes on 30 November 2005. Their titles mark the time of their composition. Elshtain set the form-three four-line stanzas, lines between five and ten syllables-and selected the following five source texts: Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, H.G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon, A. Maude Royden's Sex and Common-Sense, and Margaret Sanger's Women and the New Race. The computer, Jon Trowbridge's Gnoetry 0.2, analyzed how often various combinations of words appear in these texts and used the information to generate the published sequence. As Trowbridge describes, "Gnoetry's approach is statistical. The software does not contain any a priori knowledge of grammar." Gnoetry allows the human collaborator to regenerate specific lines; Elshtain did not otherwise edit Gnoetry's language or replace it with his own.

The result of this interface is a fascinating six-poem sequence that resembles much contemporary poetry. …

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