Saturday, January 17, 2009


What's the world coming to?

A visitor to Erica's site seems to want to get away with something, getting there from this rather interesting Google search.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Our 15 minutes isn't quite up yet

From The Nation: Lost as Food and Won as a Coast

BTW:  Erica has 'written' over 3,000 poems at her site since the Issue 1 dustup.   In the year and a half before that she'd managed about 1,800.  Well, there you go....  When Poetry speaks, people listen. Alas, nobody listens to me....

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Issue 2

I knew there was lot of hubbub over Issue 1, but I would never have estimated this much volume: what we said.  And how cool is the idea of this kind of compilation!  You really have to admire the work ethic.  I bet they're getting a boatload of hits, what with several repetitions of Issue 1's list of authors.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Rosary according to the machine

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Erica, Poet and Muse

I have a little bot that goes in and out with me and what can be the use of her is more than I can see, but she finds things.  
First take a look at the poems here: The Librarian

And then a peek at these:
Air turned through soil
A dispute
Remembrance made with might
A bosom of hearts

Finally, someone is using Erica in the way she wants to be used, machine as catalyst, as inspiration, as source material, the little girl reading in the library forgetting that all that she is reading was written by other little girls reading in libraries less dusty but just as staid.

Note that some of the text is straight up, some amended.  The way it's spozzed to be: Machine as instrument and the heavenly spheres the notes it sounds through the skilled caresses of the musician. 

Erica and I are so vindicated!  Thank you, Librarian!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Can machines mourn?

Tender distances 

Monday, October 13, 2008


A couple of thoughts

I just wanted to weigh in a bit on some of the recent discussion about Issue 1 and maybe help to make a couple of things clear.

First off, Issue 1 is not a hoax nor a prank. It is (and I think should have been immediately seen as) parody, parody as obvious as anything on The Onion. If there is anything amusing about the project, it is that so many folks did not see that. Maybe that's because it is bad parody. I'm too close to the project to be objective--I'll leave it for others to make that judgement. But speaking for myself, there was no intent to fool anybody, just to evoke a chuckle or two.

Second, the ETC project is, and should be discussed as, separate from Issue 1. I was multiply motivated to continue the project after completing my thesis. I did not feel as if the thesis satisfactorily answered the question as to whether machine poetry could compete with traditional poetry. I had attempted to devise and implement some controlled testing, but could not for the life of me devise an
adequate null hypothesis, let alone an experiment that would reject it. So after some considerable time, I decided that the only way to test was to actually send out the work and see what happened. It was important that in sending poems out I not identify them as machine works because that would irreparably compromise the experiment. Some editors would accept the work only because it was borne of the machine and others would reject it for the same reason. So Erica was born. And of course that kind of exercise does have at least some of the characteristics of the hoax. And I confess to some pleasure in the act.

And as are most alternative artists, I wanted to be disruptive.  That motivation, at least, has been amply satisfied in the last two weeks. (I know:  I contradict myself.  I do that a lot.)

But there is another, to me, more important motivation, which speaks squarely to Issue 1. And that has to do with the broader community of computational artists, particularly those working with text. A problem confronting these artists is where to get text to support their work, especially since the demands of an artifact capable of processing thousands of elements per second and storing gigabytes of data require enormous amounts of it. It is physically impossible to manually write the 1000s of pages needed to support certain types of work. Further, developing excellence in the skill sets required for developing computational artifacts and literary artifacts would require at least double the effort it takes to become either a
highly-skilled technician or highly-skilled author. My thoughts were that artificially generated texts could be used in such works. (One of the reasons I wrote the most recent version in Java was to facilitate such usage--and also why I've posted the source.) Erica never gets tired, never complains and works for just about nothing. So far only the Issue 1 guys have taken me up on that.

Finally, all of this is past. I have turned to other interests, none of them computational, and at this time, have no ambitions toward furthering the project (another reason for releasing the source). If the project has value, someone else will pick it up. If not, no one will. BTW: There is a clear line along which Erica's poetry can be improved significantly, which does not require any programming knowledge whatsoever. Just a little Xml.

If anyone is interested, I am happy to respond to questions about the software's design. Just email me.

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