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I have a pretty big interest in text generators. Not to automate creativity (though that would be great if it worked) but to give it a helpful kick in the ass sometimes.

So I was excited about Google Poem but the output from it wasn’t very interesting. Which made me think again about how the web totally isn’t providing the awesome word nerd web app I want.

What I’d like is a page that let you import streams (which ideally could be a webpage, a file you upload, an RSS feed) and uses word pairs or Markov chains or anything else cool to mix them together to varying degrees. (There are more features I’d want after that, but let’s start slow.)

The idea isn’t new, it’s basically just a web implemention of the 1991 DOS program Babble! by Korenthal Associates, with no tiny memory restriction. If you included the RSS ability so people could easily mash up the text on their own and their friends’ blogs, I think you’d have the feel-good hit of the summer.

Here are a few text mashup/generating sites I’ve come across that don’t quite do the trick:

  • DadaDodo – This one definitely has the right idea and also gives a good overview of the use of cut-ups and generators in art, but the sources are pre-determined. The ANSI C source code is provided but I have no idea what to do with ANSI C code anymore these days.
  • The Shannonizer – this one only allows one source of text and the mashup is fixed with your choice of one of eight editors.
  • When you run out of words – this one will mash up whatever text you give it, but you’re constrained to just one text source.

If anybody knows of any sites that do what I want, please let me know.

Posted on - August 20, 2004 [at] 8:37 am by Brad
Tagged in - ,

14 Comments on this post

scott reynen on Text Generators
August 20, 2004 at 10:34 pm

here’s my computer-generated poetry:

i once had a working function that took chunks of text from google, but it’s not working right now.

failrate on Text Generators
August 21, 2004 at 3:47 pm

You ought to check out

They’re always farting around with this sort of thing to deeply arcane degrees.

M. Berndtgen on Text Generators
August 22, 2004 at 2:14 pm

Try my spam poetry generator. It collects various spam mails from my mail server and tries to be creative.

scottandrew on Text Generators
August 23, 2004 at 7:47 pm

Y’know what would be really cool? An app that, given a word, pulls phrases from the web that end with words that rhyme with the provided word.

I’d also like a pony.

heuristics inc. on Text Generators
August 25, 2004 at 3:37 pm

hey brad… i’ve done a bit of work with this sort of program. actually, i was working on a new implementation of this just yesterday, in perl. if it ever comes to anything maybe i’ll post it to the web. anyway, i don’t know of a markov generator that’s freely available, but i have one for the pc. i also wrote something kind of similar in c, but that’s an oddity. i’ve been working on trying to write something that will produce better output than just a markov generator. anyway, oh, scott, is an online rhyming dictionary.

Brad on Text Generators
August 25, 2004 at 3:44 pm

Hey Bill, what’s the one you have for the PC?

scottandrew on Text Generators
August 25, 2004 at 7:20 pm

Oh yeah, I use all the time, but it doesn’t do phrases, which is what I’d prefer.

heuristics inc. on Text Generators
August 26, 2004 at 1:59 pm

Yeah, ok, it’s an old DOS-based program called Mark V Shaney… let me find a link.
Hmm, this isn’t the PC one, this is written in Python:
Here’s one for the Mac, with C source:
Looks like the one I use has been superseded by a new version:
Am downloading now to check it out.

russ on Text Generators
August 30, 2004 at 1:52 am

A friend’s Markov generator that reads from livejournal blogs.

beto on Text Generators
September 1, 2004 at 10:21 am

One of the bests generators, because of multiple choices, is:

This other is also good:

heuristics inc. on Text Generators
September 3, 2004 at 3:48 pm

wow, that last one is from a guy in the band dr. nerve. i’ve got a couple cds from that band. how cool is that!

Jim McKeeth on Text Generators
April 13, 2005 at 2:41 pm

I’ve written a similar program before, but it didn’t take web based input. That would be cool. I like the idea. Maybe I will implement that sometime.

David on Text Generators
November 26, 2005 at 6:46 am

Hey Brad,

this page has great language manipulators and generators. Its the best one I know.

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