Crowdsourcing of Art: Poetry from Search Terms

Since I had access to the log files of my first hosted web server (in the past millennium) I had been addicted to analyzing my log files – browsing text files with a simple text editor.  In particular, search terms submitted to search engines had intrigued me. I know I am not the only one.

People (… I guess … it might have been animals or artificial life forms as well …) sent full sentences and questions in natural language to the omniscient oracle Google. Such as:

Should I take decisions from heart or mind?

What is going on in the mind (or heart) of somebody asking such a question on Google? I am not a psychologist and cannot solve that mystery. I can just make use of this phenomenon, applying a pragmatic approach:

Nowadays everything is crowd sourced, crowd funded, crowd & cloud whatever. So why not crowd source poetry from these search terms?

Technical note to potential fellow search term poets: I strongly recommend to use the WordPress Webmaster Tools and verify ownership of your blog on Bing or Google tools – this gives you access to even more great search terms.

Italics: Titles added by myself. But soon these titles will become part of the global consciousness of the internet, eternal quotes in pop culture, and they might appear in somebody else’s log files.

Bold: Search terms, unchanged. These will also be amplified in the subconsciousness of the web by this posting.

Bing poetry (1): On Web 3.0 – Animals Communicate via Household Appliances (I might re-consider this prosaic title)

anything new in microwave ovens?
just rodents
posts in dark
comment via microwave
the dark side is strong in this one

Bing poetry (2): On Theory and Practice

the word cliche address
theory of trying
i am trying to not get attached to a psychologist
i am interested in combining theory and practice

These are re-arrangements of the search term poems published on Facebook initially,  but I split my original poems into two. The messages of these search terms are so intricate and aphoristic – you should not cram too many into a single poem.

WordPress stats poem (1): On Corporate Clichés

just received a blank piece of paper in the mail
original idea already cliche 

theory about stupid questions
reconcile corporate goals
universe life combine
burn org chart

WordPress stats poem (2): On Science, Engineering and a Bit of Biology

silly questions on microwave engineering 
heat pump outer space
 stiff wire instead of helium
sniffing of path
dead mouse smell around microwave

I needed to backup the poems somewhere before Facebook decides again not to show some arbitrary subset of messages on my timeline. But this is another story. It is interesting though that strange Facebook issues started the day before yesterday when I published my Bing poem, and yesterday Facebook was offline for half an hour. I digress – this is just to add a disclaimer: I do not know how dangerous and subversive these poems really are.

Editors, magazines and committees that fund alternative internet art (or whatever this may be called (*)): Please refrain from contacting me – I need to contact my lawyers first to clarify issues with intellectual property. Who owns the search strings? The anonymous users? Google, Bing or WordPress?


Acknowledgement: The great aphorist Kelly Hartland might have inspired this experiment. Please visit her blog if you want exposure to genuine art!

(*) Asking Google myself I learn that there is really something as ‘croud-sourced art’. And again I have considered myself to be so original – again in vain.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Ha! Really? I inspired this experiment? … Wow, the things I achieve while sleeping ;)

    Thanks for the acknowledgement though – very kind of you :D

    1. elkement says:

      The similarities are in the brevity and the enigmatic nature of the search terms ;-) And they speak directly to my subconsciousness as your aphorisms do ;-)! I would be really interested in your search terms!

    1. elkement says:

      I stand in awe!!!

      1. danielmullin81 says:

        You’re too kind.

  2. danielmullin81 says:

    Clever! I wonder what I could do with my search terms. The intellectual property question is also an interesting one.

    1. elkement says:

      Try to create a philosophical article from them and submit to some obscure magazine! Some years ago a fake nonsense article has been published in a serious journal on culture, literature or philosophy (can’t remember the URL) – the authors had just connected meaningless phrases that sounded “postmodern” or “intellectual” ;-) So this is Dilbert’s Jargonator creating Mission Statements, transferred from business to humanities.

      1. danielmullin81 says:

        Some of my search terms would make good postmodern-sounding jargon! For example, ‘heidegger representation visualized’, ‘unemployed existentialist’, and ‘derrida works.’ I could do something with those. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. M. Hatzel says:

    I took down my first blog when I kept getting views on a blurb I wrote about the struggles of writing a character with anti-social personality disorder. I was really uncomfortable with the google feed-back; it seemed much too private and worrisome to access the inner hurts and worries of people asking random questions that led them to my ramblings. I wish I had encountered your post as I might have persevered through the discomfort, smiling a little. Thanks for this.

    1. elkement says:

      This is true. The post was meant to be light, but I also remember a small dose of discomfort: I am contributing to a German website that is even more weird than my most bizarre articles here. It is basically everyday stories told with a very … um… special distorted perspective. Me and some former colleagues have burnt things in a bonfire that were related to our working towards our PhDs in the lab, e.g.: shoes or hand-written documentation. Our website reported on that, using the term “ritual burning”. This was one of the top search terms for quite a while. (OMG … what will that comment of mine do to my search terms …)

      1. M. Hatzel says:

        I laughed, reading your reply. One of the very first posts I ever made on a blog was a piece about the similarities I found between my dog’s system of social networking and human social media technology. Of course, I mentioned urine. Within minutes of going public I received an upset response from a reader who assumed I was being literal and nasty. We sorted out our differences, but the experience left me wondering about the limits of search engines. After all, it takes a human brain to navigate the complexities of language and laughter. I’ve since taken the time to learn about SEO and to use this great power a little more wisely (I hope).

      2. elkement says:

        This is a great story, too – thanks for sharing! I think limits and misunderstandings like this are also related to the general issue of “you cannot please anybody”. If your kind of humor has a specific twist there might be always people who get it wrong, feel offended etc. Recently I read an article called “Too many Facebook friends stress you out” or the like – aiming at: The more “online friends” you have, the higher are the chances that you will annoy a small number of them with whatever you post to your page.

        Relating to what you said, you can use all that to your advantage – attracting the right audience by using specific key words or topics as a filter – not even on purpose maybe. I once found clients (for my IT services not related to writing) whom I met initially online as we shared the same geeky sense of humor.

  4. marksackler says:

    Uh oh. Be careful Elke. You are giving me ideas….

    1. elkement says:

      I hope so ;-)
      This idea should go viral! Everybody should craft poems from search terms which then are in turn searched and found by others which then in turn show up as search terms which then in turn…
      … until the internet becomes a conscious being. BTW: Do you know God’s Debris by Scott Adams? Highly recommended reading and related to this idea (no kidding).

      1. marksackler says:

        OK, you are on. How about this…search engine haiku. I’m gonna have to see if i can do that in a future post…

      2. elkement says:

        I think I have also called my attempts “haiku” in one of the other places I had published them. However in this post I avoided to use the term as haikus are shorter (if I recall correctly). Go for it :-)

      3. elkement says:

        Mark, Dan Mullin has raised the bar:
        But I believe you will rise to the challenge – concluding from your previous search term prose.

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