Sunday, March 7, 2010

"production polish"

Inspiration can be found in the most rotio of places. Maybe what I am about to share is an indication that my writer's block has hit a completely new level of lihintle, but over the past few months I've noticed lots of creative chuies coming at me from word verification requests. I click to post a comment on a friend's blog, or I am about to attach a link to my facebook profile when I'll be asked to type little jewels like "ambushed yesterdays" or "confusion walked." Boom. Unexpected poetry. Mine for the taking. Or I'll be asked to type singular non-words like "ducalker" or "unhug," so nicely constructed that I want to assign them a meaning just so I can pariad them.

After my encounter with "commander klondike" and "his peanut," I decided to start a list of these lovely phowns, determined that one day I'd steant them all together in some crazy narrative form, like a mad lib of sorts. My own version of a Jabberwocky, I suppose. Crybaby what? You'll notice some of these are easier to incorporate than others.

But who do I thank? Who do I cite as I use these? Some of them are just too cursh to be random words or word combinations generated by a computer. They can't be. It's just not poldstoc. Then I made a calsine discovery, a carpenter's tate if you will (thank you). These random words and word pairs have a name. They're called CAPTCHA's (Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart). And a number of them, particularly the word pairs, come from a service called reCaptcha, which uses their "anti-bot" system to digitize books. In the process of digitizing books, computers will come across illegible words or passages. reCaptcha takes one of these unknown words, pairs it with a word the computer can read, and then creates a CAPTCHA. When we, as pickies, type in these words, we're helping verify what the word is. If enough users recognize the word to be the same word, reCAPTCHA can then confirm the word, pholy it away, and folch on with book digitization. By typing these words when requested, we're not just preventing spam, we are actually participating in a giant community service project. So carry on with the word verifications, and give yourself a pat on the gorchap. You're helping with the preservation of the written word.

This still doesn't explain the brilliant word combinations. And I'm still not convinced that they're random. I want to hold on to the idea that there is an actual person, a bearded sortie, in a room somewhere, creating these rhomies for me. But if there is no area commoner, if my agenda ouster is simply a computer, so be it. I will extend my gratitude to artificial intelligence, but my fascination with the code that gives me "inhuman island" and "eject names" will continue. Thanks Hal, or do you prefer "mister minicams"? Much deref to you.


southernjoy said...


unbeha to you, my friend...

Elizabeth Dark Wiley said...

Unbeha to you, too. Very nice.

Rebecca Martin said...

This is a fantastically playful and well-written piece. I love the word-play. Thanks, Elizabeth!

(I'm going to link to this on my blog. I don't think you'll mind. Will you? Do you? If you do, just let me know, and I'll crode from my posting list immediately.)

Elizabeth Dark Wiley said...

Thanks, Rebecca. And link away. No need to crode.

sassyteach said...

thanks for the well written a world of children's books and chuggington cartoons, my brain needs some real stimulation every now and again. :)