Is Google Making Us Poetic?, July 18, 2011

By Jamie Bennett (Brooklyn, NY United States)

This review is from: Poegles: A Short History and Collection (Paperback)

There’s a meme floating around that Google is making us stupid. My first reply to this meme is, sounds like a good title for a poegle. My second reply is, only if we let it. In fact, Google probably makes us smarter, and it definitely helps us become more poetic.

Describing exactly how is the idea behind Poegles, first a blog, now a book by Dave Gunton and Justin Hendrix. (Full disclosure: I know both authors and have even written poegles with them.) The concept is simple: poem + Google = poegle. However, I have found that poegling’s results can be profound.

In the accepted scheme, language and poetry originate in a speaker or writer through an act of self-expression. Poegling upends this order, letting you experience language in ways closer to how DNA must feel as it constantly replicates and recombines. Sometimes you get the wisdom of crowds, sometimes the exact opposite. Whatever you think of Google as a tool, constructing a poegle re-imagines the search engine as a digital Ouija board, offering chance, surprises, and maybe even a little mysticism.

Poegles makes learning the process easy. It’s geared, as is the idea of poegles, towards those who don’t consider themselves “poets.” It’s literary Sudoku, so is great for anyone (business people, techies, as well as “creatives”) who wants to prime their own divergent thinking potential.

Step-by-step guides and many examples help get new writers/poeglers started. For those who want a pedigree, a useful brief history places poegles in a tradition that begins with obscure 19th century poetical experiments and extends through Dadaism, Surrealism, Beat writing, the Situationist International, and the development of today’s Internet. The overall spirit of the book recalls the best promises of new technology; it’s democratic, inclusive, and awaiting your own hacks, mods, and inventions.

Google Is Making Us Stupid

I was at a dinner party the other night
When Professor Glushko brought up
Friedrich Nietzsche’s typewriter
And The McGurk Effect,
While I pretended to read
“The Brain that Changes Itself”
by Norman Doidge M.D.

I wasn’t willing to argue over stupid things:
Should women settle? What type of potato are you?
Why does your dog pretend to like you?
Is divorced the same as single?
Does anyone else Plurk?

Instead, an egotistical bastard
Or just an Ubermensch at heart,
I stared at Big G making money,
Drunken Snooki dancing with a plant.
Oh look shiny.


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