Pentametron purports to be a program that finds random tweets whose syllables fall into iambic pentameter, then retweets them in rhyming couplets, sonnet-style. I say “purports” because there’s real poetry in the results – more than I’d expect even the most cleverly designed piece of code to yield. Like so:
TONIGHT. TONIGHT. TONIGHT. TONIGHT. TONIGHT.
hand very itchy from mosquito bite
Okay okay okay okay okay
I took a 7 hour nap today
All packed and ready for the holidays! :)
it doesn’t even matter anyways
Not even fucking tired any more
I never got in twitter jail before
Turns channel …Final Destination 2
Another day, another interview.
I wonder how tomorrow’s gonna go..
I’d Rather Be A Harlot Than A Hoe
Off to rehearsal. Let the music play!
It’s gonna be a busy day today!
That was the first thing that came up when I loaded Pentametron this morning. I like it better than a lot of human-penned sonnets. There’s a clear theme of anticipatory excitement threaded through the 14 lines, and some nice stream-of-consciousness verbal echoes here and there. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s something.
And yet, according to Pentametron’s creators, this is the product of an automated algorithm that “processes about five million tweets per day, and finds a few dozen iambic lines in that time.” What an eerily talented robot! Maybe I’ve been underestimating the literary potential of technology. (Hat tip to Lois Beckett for bringing this site to my attention.)
Update: Here’s a fascinating interview with Pentametron’s creator, Ranjit Bhatnagar, illuminating how the algorithm works. I wonder what Tristan Tzara would have made of this.