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The Writing on the Computer

When people think of prolific writers, their mind jumps to people like Charles Dickens or St. Augustine or Shakespeare — individuals who have shaped Western intellectual thought with huge tracts of their wisdom bound together in paper form.

They’re about to eat Philip M. Parker’s dust (hat tip: Freakonomics)

Philip M Parker, a professor of management science at Insead, the international business school based in Fontainebleau, France, patented what he calls a “method and apparatus for automated authoring and marketing”.

Huh? Wazzat? It’s a machine that writes books!

The book-writing machine works simply, at least in principle. First, one feeds it a recipe for writing a particular genre of book – a tome about crossword puzzles, say, or a market outlook for products. Then hook the computer up to a big database full of info about crossword puzzles or market information. The computer uses the recipe to select data from the database and write and format it into book form.

Parker can literally create a book on demand:

Nothing but the title need actually exist until somebody orders a copy. At that point, a computer assembles the book’s content and prints up a single copy.

The Guardian claims he’s “written” 200,000 different books so far, of which include the fascinating Webster’s Albanian to English Crossword Puzzles: Level 1, the suspenseful The 2007 Import and Export Market for Ferrous Metal Waste and Scrap Excluding Waste and Scrap of Cast Iron and Alloy Steel in United Kingdom, and the unforgettable 2007-2012 Outlook for Edible Tallow and Stearin Made in Slaughtering Plants in Greater China.

Let’s see him craft an epic poem?

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