I have a confession: though I graduated as an English major, I never found poetry particularly moving. Song lyrics? Sure (Josh Pyke’s “Middle of the Hill” anyone?), but classic poetry? The kind set in oddly-cadenced type bound in slim leather volumes? Nah, not so much.
Which is why I was more than a little surprised by how fascinating I found the website Google Poetics. The notion is disarmingly simple: a sort of poem appears when you begin typing a phrase into Google’s search bar. Their algorithms create verses from predictive autocomplete suggestions based on previous searches by real people around the world. Because of this, the resulting lists of lines frequently resonate with more impact than you might expect from a clever parlor trick. After all, Google is the oracle most of us turn to when something consumes our attention. So their autocomplete suggestions spring from a deeply human repository of questions and doubts.
Go there. Try it. See if some accidental adjacency of inputs doesn’t spark new ideas for you. It ain’t Whitman, but that might be why I actually stayed with it.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson