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Cybernetic Haiku September 9, 2008

Posted by caveblogem in 3QD, Constructivism, Haiku, Other, Three Quarks Daily, vocabulary.

If I have any readers left, they might remember that I used to periodically examine other blogs, sacking them for words and studying words that seemed relatively unique to them [See the “Studies on the Working Vocabulary of the Blog-O-Sphere” section of this page.]  Towards the end of that phase, I used a simple algorithm to create a Haiku out of the words that a blogger used more often than other bloggers.  Yeah, it’s kinda weird and a little too complicated to explain succinctly, but you could read some of the posts and see the project develop.  And it made sense at the time. . . 

Anyway, it bothered me at the time that I was unable to automate the process of generating a Haiku out of a bunch of random words.  It bothered me that I had to intervene in the process.  I wanted to be able to push a button and have the computer do the rest, but I didn’t yet have the skill-set that I needed.  But I do now.  So here it is.  Have some fun; click the icon below.

This project demonstrates one of my favorite things about human thought–the compulsive and unconscious ways we create meaning.  We see a string of words and our brains just automatically start making sense out of them.  Doesn’t matter that they are random.  Recently I read a blog post (I think it was in Three Quarks Daily, but I can’t seem to find it now) somebody explained a party game based on the principle (and don’t get me started on the exploitation of this quirk in hypnotism).  A person volunteers to leave the room and, upon returning, guess the pertinent details of a dream that one of the others will relate to the rest of the participants while she is out of the room.  However, no dream was told to the others during her absence.  The other participants just randomly answer the questions of the volunteer, trying to keep their answers consistent with the ones that precede them.  Thus the dream is entirely a figment of the volunteer’s imagination, and usually ends up telling the participants a little more than they want to know about the mind of the volunteer.  

Yeah, it sounds more like a dirty trick than a game.  But it is an interesting metaphor for life, too.  And I am desperately trying to tell myself that that is a good thing, these days.  If you are an optimist, you are much more likely to find happiness, because you expect to–you look for it, assuming it is there somewhere.  

Anyway, this looks to be my last extracurricular programming project until at least November, and probably even later than that, since I want to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year.  I started a new job last week and between that and the two classes I’m taking, I won’t have much time to put into this sort of thing for a while.  

When I saw that Moon Topples is blogging again I briefly toyed with the idea of setting this thing up so that it automatically posted a haiku for me each day on this site– a poor-but-efficient imitation of MTs Monday Morning Haiku posts.  But I think I’ll just ask that if any readers of this blog manage to get the machine to produce a particularly interesting poem, they post it in a comment below.