What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.


Friday, May 04, 2007

This Post Wis Wratten By Chance

In order to write today’s entry, we took Steve to the FCN Lab and inputted several hundred random characters. Some of the letters were capitalized, others were numerals or punctuation marks; the space bar was pressed as well. Using a computer program designed just for this purpose (a macro for Excel, in case you just have to know), we guaranteed that all the characters were truly random.

The result was a painful amalgamation of symbols, letters and, believe it or not, one legible word. Line 26 of our experiment had the following:

*SNdi sln 9eoOn*(`~ ;lHneO LOVE d9J8%,=ksnz+52*ne
Romantic, isn’t it?

Unless you are reading a lot into the page and a half of disorganized text Steve produced, it meant nothing; at least not in its first stages.

We decided that including numeric characters made generating a random post without any numbers very unlikely, so we cut all but four numerals out and reduced the chances of a punctuation mark or capital letter appearing to more accurately represent real prose.

To add meaning to the text, we “bred” different lines together, giving sentences a chance to become more refined. For instance we took the first generation line:

T tstWaPiih Bosr ntnChyW esace
and bred it with itself. Over successive generations, we were able to decipher some meaning to these seemingly random letters.

Generation 2:
Th tsch ssn nyarW etoWC aP tBiie

Generation 3:

T scenW tsiaorha hyWi Bn ttPCse

Generation 20:

Thos Pist Wis Wratten By Chance

Generation 21:

This Post Wis Wratten By Chance

It took until the twenty-first generation to achieve our goal phrase, and even then the dang computer substituted the “i” and “a” in “written” and “was.” No matter what we did, we couldn’t fix that.

On the way to achieving our goal phrase, we discarded twenty lines by the cyber-wayside. These wasted letters, if you will, mean nothing to anyone and were therefore be short-lived and quickly killed. The hard drive space they occupy will soon be filled with something more provocative.

The meaningful letters, however, survived to make this post. They assembled, without knowing us or one another, and formed words; those words formed sentences and those sentences paragraphs. And this crazy collection of symbols makes sense - at least as much as any other FCN post. With only a couple grammatical and style mistakes – all of which are normal for FCN’s writers, derelicts that we are – this post manages to find order out of randomness. At 2,935 characters (including spaces and punctuation and the four numerals in "2,935"), it’s a real feat of chance.

We’d keep going and explain the how amazing this is, but the more ambitious we get with this post the longer we’ll have to sit in the FCN lab.

5 comments:

She who must not be named.... said...

That was so crazy itc ould have been a real experiment... *grins*
(Poor Steve)

Hank the Janitor said...

Sounds like a complete waste of time to me. Then again, what else is new?

Anonymous said...

Such cynical readers... *hehe

Kat said...

Interesting.. I'd love to see what would happen if someone kept going. I mean, what would it look like by the 100th generation?

gummi said...

who is steve. please please answer me!!