Category Archives: Code as Poetry


So it turns out this is the second to last class — we do have class next week. So next week, we’ll review everyone’s projects — your generators, and (if you make one) your chatterbots. If you want to have a “live” program, I need you to post your vocabularies by this week so I can put them into the software.

Show and Tell:

NPR: Paying Real Money to Win Online Games

David Byrne gets and RIAA warning (too much Missy Eliot in a 3 hour period)

Chatterbots (and the economics of invisibility)
The NY Times wrote a story about a video chatterbot called DiNA, but they’ve already hidden the story behind a paywall. (Here’s Grand Text Auto describing it).

Objects with Brains
What does basic generative programming have to do with your everyday life? Here’s Cory Doctorow in the NY Times today (read it quick) on programable logic:

The proliferation of cheap and cheerful programmable chips promises a new age of “whimsical logic,” chips that power devices whose functions are as delightfully impractical as their forms…

Media Suicide Watch: the Dead
The Grateful Dead has always had a policy of allowing fans to record and trade all their shows — it’s been one of the major factors in their popularity. Now that they’re rich, a couple of the remaining Grateful Dead rights holders have reversed that policy and are demanding that take down the high quaility recordings or makes them only available as un-savable streams. A lot of people find this incredibly sad and hypocritical….

More deranged anti-piracy action:
Don’t Copy That Floppy from 1992. The power of the scary rapper compels you!

And from the other team…
VCD Quality — a review site for pirated movies. Find the F1L3 n4M3z you want to download before you fire up your file trading app.

Visual Grammar of teh Web
Warning! This site contains images!

OMG ! Briliant Idea ! 1 !
Looking at this person’s idea for “Darwinian Poetics,” I had me an idea for a script similar to Hot-or-Not, Geek-or-Not, or Kitten War: Am I Poem or Not — rate a snippet of text for poetic value. Or maybe Poem War — two snippets of text appear, and the user the poetic winner. Make it so, Dan!

Thanksgiving Eve Organizational Frenzy

Student Work Portfolios
You all have nice web pages dedicated to your code work
Behold! Code as Poetry Student Work 2005!

Feel the peer pressure…

Information Overload
Just in time for your tryptophan induced stupor, I compiled information about all the stuff we talked about last week: the Sony rootkit, text adventures, and chatterbots. Note the corresponding posts below. Click on the (more…) Drink in the sweet sweet knowledge.

In the news today:
This toy called Let them sing it for you. It takes what you type and turns it into an audio file comprised of words from popular songs. The artist who made it, Erik Bünger, is in to pluderphonics in general.

What’s Pluderphonics?
Glad you asked….

John Oswald is considered the originator of the term “pluderphonics”
Here’s a nice plunderphonics track of his: [MP3]

Other artists who use these techniques:
People Like Us
Almost every DJ you’ve ever heard of…

Here’s a giant meta-mashup by DJ Food – Raiding the 20th Century [ MP3 ]

Did you get that thing I sent ya?

Some stuff I blathered about in class:

Here’s where you can find your work directories:
This is where I’ll put your scripts so you can check the output. Maybe I’ll make the layout more pretty. Maybe I won’t….

The self-perpetuating prediction of Moore’s Law

The alluring musical recommendations of

The Future Cost of a Good Synthetic World
If movies cost $100 million for maybe 10 hours of total entertainment, then an equivalent video game on an hourly entertainment basis could cost up to $13 billion. Given how much time and money people already spend inside of games, it’s kind of scary to think about what kind of virtual world could be created with a multibillion dollar budget….

The new USC faculty who are studying the biological basis of emotion.
They look like nice folks. (The stuff I heard about doing brain sensor focus groups was part of a radio interview…)

The Straight Dope on Mormons.
In his book An Address to All Believers in Christ, David Whitmer, one of the “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon, writes:

I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.

Write a haiku… and so much more!

To write a haiku
by not writing — you call this
homework? It seems weird…

Those of you who didn’t compose a list of formatted variables (aka: “words”) for the haiku generator, this is your last chance. (Those of you who already did are welcome to create another list for us to try out.) I’ll be checking your blogs later tonight. Which is Tuesday.


Book Report
Write a book report of your assigned reading from Words Made Flesh. (That’s pages 75 – 101. I’d like you to pay special attention to, Tristan Tzara and the Dadist poem, Italio Calvino and Machine Generated Literature, and the Oulipo. )

You can use these readings as a jumping off point to discuss any related text or topic, so long as you intelligently reference the readings. You book reports should be 2-3 paragraphs with a link or two, posted to your blogs. I’d like you to have this done by next Monday, November 14.

Idea for a Generative Text
I’d like you to describe an idea for a text generator similar to what we’ve been using in class. This week, I’d like you to describe an idea of what you might do. By next week, I’d like you to describe a program that could do what you thought of. Not write a program — just kind of outline how you think it might work. I’ll help you out with that part based on the ideas you post this week.

Once we have your description and outline for your text generator, we’ll put together your program so you can see how it works. And then you will feel the joy of creating a piece of live code. Have a mountain dew and a snickers on me, you hacker nerd!

The next code project we’ll tackle will be a basic chatterbot. As prep work, you should do some google / wikipedia work with the term “eliza.” Find some toys. Play with ’em. See what happens. Write about it in your blog. Which reminds me…

Point of No Return
Some of y’all are a little “behind” on your journal posting. Which, I must remind you, is the only written requirement in this class. So if you plan on catching up with your blog posts, do it now.

Becasue if you fall any futher behind, we will replace you with a clever little bot which will spew out random yet entertaining text in your place. This bot will also receive your credit for this class.

Sad for you, but the bot will be well on its way to a high powered job.

The future is weird, no?