200,000 Computer Generated Books
The New York Times has an article about Philip M. Parker, a management professor who uses computers and programmers to cull information from the web and turn it into books
. He's created - I don't want to use the word "write" - 200,000 of them that he sells through Amazon.com:
If this sounds like cheating to the layman’s ear, it does not to Mr. Parker, who holds some provocative — and apparently profitable — ideas on what constitutes a book. While the most popular of his books may sell hundreds of copies, he said, many have sales in the dozens, often to medical libraries collecting nearly everything he produces. He has extended his technique to crossword puzzles, rudimentary poetry and even to scripts for animated game shows.
And he is laying the groundwork for romance novels generated by new algorithms. “I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”
I've heard of the sausage factory approach before, but this is one high volume production line. The idea of having boilerplate language with specifics filled in to create a "new" document isn't new. But I wonder how much of the added content is really free of copyright restraints and available for legal use.
Labels: automation, books, computers, online, publishing