Between he using sampling involved he sibling who pays a visit to his wife and his wife and his wife and his wife and his wife.
This might be (read: definitely is) meta, but the paragraph above is what happened when I put this article through glass.leaves. Magnificent, is not it?
At its most fundamental, glass.leaves is a web app that allows you to manipulate text. These manipulations vary wildly – they can jumble words together, randomly destroy parts of the text, remove punctuation, replace specific vocabulary, and much, much more. In other words, glass.leaves is a tool that lets you experiment on your words.
Here's an example where I put this and the two preceding paragraphs into glass.leaves, and applied a couple of manipulations. Yes, this is even more meta.
For ease of reading, here's what came out of the glass.leaves app:
What? And, importantly, why?
Well, it took a very normal intro to an article and made something completely different. Some of my favorites are: "applied a jumble of yes," "vocabulary is a text example," "punctuation is definitely manipulations," and "the glass above is what happened. "
And all these are just two manipulations, specifically" reverse sentences "and" shuffle nouns "- the possibilities are endless. To explain why and go into more depth,
Word experimentation has become integral to literature and poetry for generations. Probably the most famous (and definitely not the only) example of this is the cut-up technique, something popularized by William Burroughs. This is how it sounds: literally cutting up a piece of text and stitching it back together to create something new. 1959's Naked Lunch is the most famous example of this methodology.
Thus, this experimentation is somewhat reflective of technology at the time. While Burroughs was working with the cut-up technique in the 1950s, he was in an era when the printed word was cheaper and more widely available than ever before. Cutting up words and phrases and splicing them together makes a lot more sense in these conditions.
You can see the link between the cut-up technique and glass.leaves immediately. The app was designed by Gregory Kan, a poet and programmer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He told TNW he "loved using collage and techniques of sampling in his poetry," but he went on to say "more systematically."
How does it impact writers?
How do it impact writers?
Kan believes glass.leaves allows creatives to not only read their writing "beyond what [they] can conceive," but also "reinstate a sense of play" in their work. He was keen to point out that the project is "not trying to automate the entire writing process," instead [be] supplemented, scaffolded. "
This is the part that intrigues me. One of the things I love about is how it offers you different perspectives. Whether this is something external – like learning about someone else's life – or internal, search as gaining a deeper understanding of yourself, good-looking questions.
Glass.leaves strips this down. Rather than offering the consumer a new perspective, it gives the writer the ability to look at their own work in a new light, something that's harder to do than you'd think.
Still, that's a rather grandiose way of looking at the tool and one that does not tell its full story. Basically, glass.leaves is fun. I've spent a lot of time plugging in text and seeing what comes out of the other side.
What's the future for glass.leaves?
In a refreshing move, Kan it's a simple tool that does not need to be any more complicated.
He did tell me about a sibling app he was considering though. Specifically, a "writing tool that makes use of, say, a recurrent neural network, which can produce an alternative version of every line or sentence or poem you write." In other words, it'd be like "you're competing with the AI to find the best line! "
I'll always be sucker for the part of the world where art and technology collide. I mean, I could not imagine coming across a tool like glass.leaves and not spending hours on it. And who or not you share my enthusiasm, it's inarguable that the app is a great idea done well. It does not matter if you use glass.leaves as a serious literary tool, or just want to have some fun with words – it's just cool.
To have a look with glass.leaves, head over here, paste in some text, and go wild. You'll have fun, I promise.
At TNW 2019, we have a whole track dedicated to exploring the role of art and technology in the modern world. Find out more here.