Friday, July 30, 2004



I once (during grad school, probably between rounds of Tetris) wrote a fortran program (like Latin, a dead language) to take a pre-existing document as input, create a tally of word, word length and letter frequencies, and spit out a new, random document a) using real words with the same word frequency, or b) using randomized words with the same word length and letter frequency.

As it had no obvious astronomical purposes, let's just say I was "off-duty".

It really didn't have any purpose when I wrote it, I was just dicking around, but eventually I used it to generate random words when I was trying to think of a name for my new embryo. It was actually a great brainstorming tool because I came up with Wyld and Wolf, names that would never have occured to me otherwise. Names that I apparently would never use, either, since my kid's name is Zachary, so, well, whatever. Nonetheless, it was a project that I remember, and I sort of wish I still had the programming capacity to rewrite it in a new language, 'cos it would be cool. You know. For dicking around with.

Now it turns out that someone obviously got hold of it and input all documents ever written and all conversations ever spoken in English because I just got a link to a great site that graphically displays the top 86000-ish most frequently used words in the English language. Ok, maybe they have a different way of figuring out frequencies than I did, but I still like it.

Because I'm on this word frequency/lack of programming skills roll now, I'm reminded of another project that I wish I could do but can't because while other people were learning C and C++ I was maintaining legacy code in FORTRAN and I never had time to keep up and whine whine whine oppression oppression oppression. Anyway, I want to be able to take a document - say, the transcript of a Bush press conference, or the song lyrics to "I Miss that Bitch" - and turn the words into fridge poetry units, so you can, duh, make fridge poetry out of it.

Think of it:

oppressed terror rising
while this nation feels relief
having passed challenging drugs
across our borders

I mean, how cool would that be?

Someone help me here...


Anonymous said...

Tempting to try it.
Not at two in the morning,
but maybe later

xiki said...

no excuse. 2am is prime creativity time. get with it!