random links

random links

One of my favourite tools at the moment is an online random paragraph generator. The enjoyment comes when I try and make sense of the paragraph, either putting it in some context, or applying it to something else to generate a new idea, or just using it to set my mind wandering in a new direction. Often I’ll use it along with my other hobby of doodling, to play with new ideas.

Beside my conference quibbles the miserable microprocessor.

An outcome similar to doodling is that you occasionally get amusingly lucid yet weird combinations of disparate ideas, sometimes sounding metaphorical, sometimes pseudo-gibberish, sometimes jokey and whimsical. It can take a while clicking the button, but sometimes there are interesting gems.

The machine leaks underneath the bothered rod.

I’ve heard about similar techniques and tools in the past, such as Edward De Bono and his random entry game in a BBC book that was recommended to me on my postgraduate studies. I’d also watched a programme about David Bowie and how he used the cut-up technique for coming up with some of his lyrics.

The incoherent girl coughs.

(I’d looked into similar things in my last year as an undergraduate, when I started getting interested in procedurally generated content in games and stories. This led me on to books such as The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Morphology of the Folktale and Hamlet on the Holodeck as part of my studies; as well as hypertext fiction such as Afternoon, a Story, interactive narrative tools by Chris Crawford and more esoteric French things.)

An inner blurb rephrases each relevance.

A side effect of introducing a random element into your thinking is that it requires some work on the part of the thinker to put it into context, using some kind of association and learned knowledge (and if you’re lucky enough to have it, some inspiration – which is where play and creativity comes in.)

A loophole charms a rushing shoe.

Putting things in context is related to the idea of closure. Closure is a term I read about in a lovely book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, which is used to describe the act of filling in the gaps between frames in a comic; the reader uses a leap of imagination to construct causality and a story from a set of images. In this way, comics (like books) are a cool medium, requiring active participation to link things together.

A tomato cautions the glossy wisdom.