Music News

Haiku The News: Eric Peterson is The Future

It's a simple concept: Write a program that searches news articles for naturally occurring Haikus and pair them with an obliquely related flickr photo.

Personally, we could never do this because we do not know how to use something called Unix Cron Scheduling. But Eric Peterson does. You may know Eric from his work as a member of Houses and Old Radio. And as a part of his web site, which in general looks a lot like a class project he got a gold star on, he's created this haiku the news page. It automatically updates every few hours.

The computer-generated haikus frequently don't make any sense because the program is just looking for the right number of syllables. From there, it yanks out any punctuation and capitalization and formats the three lines.

It's possible that Peterson was just screwing around with programming and that he never meant this to be especially profound. But his mission statement indicates that it's about more than a coding challenge.

The results are fascinating regardless of his intention. It's a great thought experiment on all kinds of things: the way news is consumed, the ability of computers to create art, the role of context, etc. And occasionally the thing turns out damn good haikus.

Rather than picking out our favorites from the past week or so, we suggest you visit the site yourself. It makes more sense to browse than to take specific examples anyway. Plus, the design is gorgeous.

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Kiernan Maletsky is Westword's music editor. His writing has appeared in alt-weeklies around the country as well as Miley Cyrus's mom's Twitter feed.
Contact: Kiernan Maletsky