Digital Media Archaeology: Interpreting Computational Processes

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Abstract (in original language): 

Digital media archaeology approach to interpreting the operations and computational processes of Christopher Strachey's 1952 love letter generator for the Manchester Mark I computer.

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I see the love letter generator, not as a process for producing parodies, but as itself a parody of a process. The letters themselves are not parodies of human-authored letters; rather, the letter production process is a parodic representation of a human letter-writing process. It is not a subtle parody, driven by a complex structures that circuitously but inevitably lead, for example, to the same small set of vapid sentiments stored as data. Rather it is a brutally simple process, representing the authoring of traditional society’s love letters as requiring no memory, driven by utterly simple sentence structures, and filled out from a thesaurus. The love letter generator, in other words, was as complex as it needed to be in order to act out a parody.

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J. R. Carpenter