The poet's other self: studying machine writing through the humanities

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review


As social discourse moves further and further into online spaces, the creation of
fractured, fluid online identities increases. These online identities, known as “hyperidentities”, do not produce the traditional cultural artefacts of the non-digital past. Memoirs and novels are replaced by tweets and forum posts, seemingly incompatible with traditional forms of literary and media analysis.

This article explores the use of “Machine Writing” – the creation of texts via computational methods – as a methodology for understanding online cultures. By using code to wrangle the textual artefacts created by online communities, such as tweets or forum posts, online identities can be unified into long-form pieces of prose or poetry that are ripe for analysis and critique. This article will introduce the concept of Machine Writing as a creative practice that intersects with the Digital Humanity’s “Distant Reading” methodology, through a transformation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven using the Machine Writing
technique Mathews’ Algorithm. The article will then interrogate the concept of hyperidentities by analysing three Machine Written texts born from them: Ranjit Bhatnagar’s I got an alligator for a pet! and You Can’t Write If You Can’t Relate, and Studio Moniker’s All The Minutes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalHumanity: NewMac Postgrad Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017
EventNewMac 2016: Constellations - Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 7 Dec 20167 Dec 2016


  • Digital Humanities
  • Machine Writing
  • English Literature
  • Digital Literature
  • New Media
  • Digital Media
  • Cybercultures


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