20 May 2012

Pentametron: All the Tweets, in Iambic Pentameter

Pentametron is an algorithm that combs Twitter for iambic pentameters and puts them together into  poems. There's something for everyone, even soccer fans.
 If that one makes too much sense, there's plenty of straight-up surrealism:

Creator Ranjit Bhatnagar explains how the algorithm works (via the Daily Beast)
If it knows all the words, it checks the [Carnegie Mellon University] dictionary for the stress patterns of the words, which add up to the rhythm of the tweet. If the rhythm seems to match the pattern of iambic pentameter, the tweet goes into a bin of potential lines of poetry. On average, about one in every 50,000 tweets qualifies.
Bhatnagar takes inspiration from the the surrealists, but with a modern spin:
It's fascinating to me that on the internet of free phone and video calls, one of the most popular sites just moves words around. Lots and lots of words. One of the goals of Pentametron is to show how weird and interesting this giant flood of language is.
When I was reading a lot of ancient Greek I always loved the arcane intricacies of poetic meter. I'd love to see what kind of trochaic trimeter or Sapphic stanzas Twitter spews forth, but in the meantime I'll have to content myself with a some more of these romantic iambs:

Thanks to Umlud's Place for tipping me off to this one!

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