“I read your blog post the other day. It reminded me of a book. In it there’s– I don’t know if you’ve read it maybe? I don’t remember the author’s name. Or the name of the book. Anyway, I read this book when I was younger where this man builds a machine – a really big machine, the whole ground floor of an old terraced house – and it’s got all of these levers and buttons. And he pushes different levers and buttons, and turns different handles. It’s a bit like Bop-It actually. He pulls all this different stuff and sometimes he has to use his toes and his feet and his arms and hands are everywhere. And only he can use it, no-one else knows where the right things are. And when he’s done what he wants he gets a story out at the other end. Anyway, it reminded me of that.”
I am now looking for
two things one thing. One is something like the thing I described the other day. The other is the name of the book that’s being described above.
Jonty tells me that the story being described above was Roald Dahl’s The Great Automatic Grammatizator. Brilliant. At the moment the Wikipedia plot desription of it closes with the following;
The story ends on a fearful note, as more and more of the world’s writers are forced into licensing their names-and all hope of human creativity-to the machine.
Another reason I definitely don’t want that machine. The thing I’m looking for is altogether quieter. I described it on Twitter yesterday as “something that could mull over copy for me” which is about right.
But chains elicited categories;
1 fall machines
2 and suggestions, elicited machines
I’m post suggestions, chains. And quite I’m by Cut-up elicited of two categories; 1 by chains, and nice not into Markov.
There’s a phase in some of the copywriting that I do where I start using ctrl-c and ctrl-v to move fragments and phrases around a page. Sometimes the fragments are from several of my own drafts, sometimes they’re the voices of a bunch of other writers. Sometimes it lasts hours, other times just minutes. But the question is always the same; what shapes can I see if I move these around? After a while I find myself writing the sentence that needs to be written.
I realised today that when it comes to writing a biog or a positioning statement that job could benefit from a companion-bot/non-human actor.
What I want is something a bit like this
And a bit like this
As I moved words around today I realised I was looking at something a little bit like Tom’s Markov Chocolate Twitterbot. But putting the original documents through a Markov chain wouldn’t be enough, I’d want to be able to influence the outcome of the next iteration of text (to, say, pick two outcomes to propagate the next generation of text).
It wouldn’t have to be perfect. The idea is that it sparks enough connections to make me write the line I need to write.
So, does this exist? Can I have it?