October 5, 2004

All the Fits of News

by Nick Montfort · , 4:29 pm

news reader News Reader, by Noah, David Durand, Brian Moss, and Elaine Froehlich, is now available for download from the Turbulence site. This is the second of two news-eating textual instruments (Regime Change, discussed earlier, being the other) for Mac OS X and Windows, and this one plays on (initially) mainstream stories loaded live from Yahoo! News. “Playing these stories brings forth texts generated from alternative press stories,” the artists explain, “portions of which are introduced (through interaction) into the starting texts.”

“Yusuf Islam and Mr. Ramadan preaches against this sort of intolerance …” “… throwing new fuel onto the presidential campaign issue of his sermons and fellow countrymen …” “Behind the scenes, Bush campaign preferences for the table, seen as weak spots for the People and the military brass had clashed on troop levels.”

4 Responses to “All the Fits of News”

  1. Abject Learning Says:
    [Textologies] – Newsreader – textual remix on the fly
    News Reader is software for reading and playing the network news environment. News Reader initially offers the current “top stories” from Yahoo! News — which are always drawn from mainstream sources. Playing these stories brings forth texts gene…

  2. noah Says:

    News Reader is noted at neural.it in Italian. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an English translation. (I know Vika’s very busy, but….)

  3. vika zafrin Says:

    This is very rough, but – enjoy. :)

    Reading news online, whether on the web, on mailing lists or using ultraefficient RSS feeds (which permit one to have an instant bird’s-eye-view of multiple sources) has become an everyday rite. It is performed as often as several times a day, for the intoxicating sensation it gives one of being ‘connected with what’s happening’. But the [incredibly fast] production and publication times make the consumption of such information an unrestrained, bulimic process, often leading to an informational hangover from which it’s difficult to recover. Playing with these concepts is News Reader, a program that transforms a news item into a related text. Headlines are drawn from Yahoo! News, and viewing the body of a news item reveals a text with some hyperlinked terms. The links lead not to a deeper analysis of the term or to a related site, but to a new window where we find a text generated by statistical models and drawn from the alternative news source ‘Common Dreams’. The imperceptible transfer from the original text to one generated from fragments fuses concepts, giving them a more precise overall meaning. The software was written by Noah Wardrip-Fruin (author [feminine; Noah, you might want to correct them on this!] of The New Media Reader and First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game), David Durand, Brion Moss and Elaine Froehlich, and is part of a set of two pieces of software, both of which apply a political approach to the distribution and reproduction of texts. (The other program is called Regime Change.) Interlinking concepts in News Reader, through logical associations but with a different emphasis than they have in the original, successfully accomplishes a double purpose: to shift the univocal and ascetic point of view of the larger news sources, and to explore their writing from a linguistic perspective. The result is fascinating, but the best and most peculiar feature [of this approach] is in the mechanical invention of credible results, at times downright entertaining or visibly dramatic, taking advantage of the patterns of language generation (?) to illuminate us about its unconscious perception.

  4. noah Says:

    Vika, that’s great! Thanks very much.

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