Total dissociation

Happy April Fool’s Day! To mark the occasion, we filtered all of our text through something called [Dissociated Press][jargon]. It’s not just a completely random jumble of the original text — it actually can make sense, although it helps if you are on drugs. If …

Happy April Fool’s Day! To mark the occasion, we filtered all of our text through something called [Dissociated Press][jargon]. It’s not just a completely random jumble of the original text — it actually can make sense, although it helps if you are on drugs. If you missed out on it, you can see it in action by putting the phrase _&dissociated=y_ after the URL in your browser. (i.e. to see this article dissociated, visit [http://www.crunchable.net/?p=248&dissociate=y][url].)

Although I originally saw Dissociated Press in action in my favorite editor, [emacs][emacs], I glommed the actual algorithm from a [Perl module][cpan] written by Sean M. Burke, who was thoughtful enough to include a brief sketch of how it works. Basically, it’s a poor man’s form of [Markov chains][markov], which are [complicated mathematical things][math] that sound cool. Here’s a paraphrase of [Sean's own paraphrase][seansparaphrase]:

1. Start off at a random point in the text.
2. Print out a couple words.
3. Find the next instance of the last word we just printed out.
4. Go to step 2.
5. If we couldn’t find another instance of the word, go to step 1.

This sounds moronically simple — and it kind of is — but it’s fast and it produces sufficiently weird results. Here are some neat turns of phrase I noticed while testing. I’ve linked them to the original:

* [We met before][jenn], and we were tall — and you were my secret and Sunday curled: life was all. The essence of college?

* [Beyond the question][joel] of the two worlds: the game, else that use of color.

* [Here they just][steve] get Bush. I to these to slap soon. Bland. Lifeless. and Edwards.

[Here][download] is a WordPress plugin free for use that implements Dissociated Press across the entire site. By default, it only does so when _dissociate=y_ is part of the URL, but the source code explains how to change it so that it’ll muck up every page. It’ll even scramble your RSS feeds, if you like.

[jargon]: http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/D/Dissociated-Press.html
[url]: http://www.crunchable.net/?p=248&dissociate=y
[emacs]: http://www.tarunz.org/~vassilii/srom/
[cpan]: http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/Games-Dissociate-0.15/lib/Games/Dissociate.pm
[markov]: http://www.eblong.com/zarf/markov/
[math]: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/MarkovChain.html
[seansparaphrase]: http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/Games-Dissociate-0.15/lib/Games/Dissociate.pm#About_Dissociated_Press_algorithms
[jenn]: /?p=233
[joel]: /?p=89
[steve]: /?p=121
[download]: /dissociate/dissociate.phps

Article © 2005 by Chris Klimas