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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Heartbreaking Spam of Staggering Genius  
Some years back I wrote an essay on the accidental poetry that can emerge from the machinery of Babelfish and other automatic-translation programs. Subsequently the notion has become old-hat, particularly as spammers have taken up the habit of lacing their emails with the radar-busting chaff of random sentence fragments, resulting in a corpus of nonsense that a small army of connoisseurs has taken to harvesting for moments of lyrical surrealism. Yesterday, however, thanks to a serendipitous Google vanity search, I stumbled on a cache of spam-driven word salad so richly lunatic that I am once again returned to my initial state of wonder at the Underweb's capacity for coughing up hairballs of stochastic eloquence. In it, I am described, notably, as "a causative editor for Stiffened depot" (transformed, presumably, from "contributing editor for Wired magazine"), but you need a lengthier sample to get the full flavor:

“It’s eminently doable,” says Prince Castronova, an link academic at Indiana Lincoln and author of Synthetical Worlds: The Activity and Culture of Online Games. “If a being in Snatch can live on a greenback a day, they can achieve their living playacting recording games.”

The upshot, Dibbell says, is that as solon users perceive construction to distort dollars out of gold pieces, games equal Experience of Warcraft prepare sophisticated economies, with measurable GDPs and reverse rates.

“There are fill making six figures,” Dibbell says. “One-man operations, essentially, doing vii figures. It’s not solid to pee money doing this.”

I thought at first that this must be a piece of Babelfishery -- the result of the original text's having been auto-translated from English to Chinese/French/Malay/whatever and back a few times. But if you look more closely it's clearly some program that is working with an English-only thesaurus, simply replacing random nouns and adjectives with randomly selected synonyms. Honestly, if I spent all my days studying the spammers and SEO gamers, I think I still would never quite understand what in the name of Jesus they are up to with stuff like this. But in this case at least it's clear that they are essentially playing Mad Libs for a living. Ludocapitalism marches on!

And also let me emphasize: By no means is it solid to pee money doing this.

11:46 AM

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