This Is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens, and Other WTF Research by Marc Abrahams

This Is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens, and Other WTF Research by Marc Abrahams

Author:Marc Abrahams [Abrahams, Marc]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Tags: science questions answered, scepticism, bizarre inventions, science parody, sex research, physics, medical history, curiosities and wonders, quite interesting trivia, odd research discoveries, popular psychology, weird science, Ig Nobel Prize, mathematics, behavioral economics, irrationality, forensic science, Guardian newspaper
Publisher: Oneworld Publications (trade)
Published: 2012-09-05T16:00:00+00:00

Turn to page 16 of his patent, and you will see him answer the question, ‘And why?’

Parker quotes a 1999 complaint, waged by The Economist magazine, that publishing ‘has continued essentially unchanged since Gutenberg. Letters are still written, books bound, newspapers mostly printed and distributed much as they ever were.’

‘Therefore’, says Parker, ‘there is a need for a method and apparatus for authoring, marketing, and/or distributing title materials automatically by a computer.’ He explains that ‘Further, there is a need for an automated system that eliminates or substantially reduces the costs associated with human labor, such as authors, editors, graphic artists, data analysts, translators, distributors, and marketing personnel.’

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, or maybe a patient’s guide to medical maladies. Then hook the computer up to a big database full of info about crossword puzzles or market information or maladies. The computer uses the recipe to select data from the database and write and format it into book form.

Nothing but the title need actually exist until somebody places an order – typically via an online, automated bookseller. At that point, a computer assembles the book’s content and prints up a single copy.

Among Parker’s one hundred best-selling books (as ranked by Amazon) one finds surprises. His fifth-best seller in 2008 was Webster’s Albanian to English Crossword Puzzles: Level 1. Bestseller No. 21: The 2007 Import and Export Market for Seaweeds and Other Algae in France. No. 66 is the aforementioned The 2007–2012 Outlook for Chinese Prawn Crackers in Japan. And rounding out the list, at No. 100, is The 2007–2012 Outlook for Edible Tallow and Stearin Made in Slaughtering Plants in Greater China.

Parker appears also to be enthusiastic about books authored the old-fashioned way. He has already written five of them.

Parker, Philip M. (2005). ‘Method and Apparatus for Automatic Authoring and Marketing.’ US Patent No. 7,266,767, 31 October.


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