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ChomskyBot, Thomas Friedman Instacolumn

Extending on Michael's previous post, anyone who hasn't tried the ChomskyBot, do it now. Every time you hit "next paragraph", the ChomskyBot makes up a unique Chomskyism, just for you! Chomsky never said any of these things…at least not yet. … Read More

By / September 12, 2006

Extending on Michael's previous post, anyone who hasn't tried the ChomskyBot, do it now.

Every time you hit "next paragraph", the ChomskyBot makes up a unique Chomskyism, just for you! Chomsky never said any of these things…at least not yet. But the ChomskyBot uses a simple algorithm to generate new statements that he very well might say.

The ChomskyBot is a critique of Chomsky's impressive-sounding but (according to some critics) often incoherent academic writing. More generally, it's a critique of the heroic struggle waged by many academics to sound absolutely as smart as possible…and if in the process their utterances are totally content-free, that's fine by them!

Of course, the Remnick quote is about the sclerotic writing models employed in journalism, rather than in academia.

So maybe a better example is "Write Your Own Thomas Friedman Column!" published in the New York Observor. It included such key instructions as: "Begin your first paragraph with a grandiose sentence and
end with a terse, startlingly unexpected contradiction."

The Observor makes up an example: "The future of civilization depends upon open communication between Yasir Arafat and Ariel Sharon…But for now, the two men can't speak. Why? You can't make a collect call from Bethlehem.

Then, "Use the next few paragraphs to further define the contradiction stated above, peppered with little questions making it look like you're having a conversation with the reader. Feel free to use the first person."

For example, "My first thought was to ask: Why no collect calls from Bethlehem? It's easy to call collect from Bosnia, Kosovo, even Uzbekistan. Am I sure? Of course I'm sure. I was in each of those places just a few weeks ago, making collect calls all over the world. No problem. So why can't Arafat call collect from Bethlehem?"

The Observor no longer offers the article for free. Without approving of his decision to do so, I note that Tom Gross reproduces the complete article at his Mideast Media Analysis site.

 

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