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Monday, March 7, 2005

Wildcard Morphing

Using phrase search in Google, you can construct a perfectly new sentence out of an old one by following a simple set of rules – and sort of peek into an alternate world.

First, you start off with a seed sentence. Take anything you like, but it should be a very common (popular) phrase. I choose "why is the sky blue". Now you replace the first word with the wildcard operator, and you subtract the whole phrase – thus forcing Google to present you an alternative word in bold. So you enter ...

"* is the sky blue" -"why is the sky blue"

...and you get different snippets. Choose the first snippet where the wildcard word is replaced in a single sentence. I get "Housing crunch in SF? Is the sky blue?" which doesn't count as it's not one sentence. The second is "Today, is the Sky Blue?" which does count. Here, "Today" is our new word.

Write down the first replaced word and continue this for all words of your sentence. My sentence then results in the following:

Why   is  the     sky   blue
Today was earth's ocean dark

So in a sense this rule-set skews the meaning of your seed sentence in just in one dimension – yielding potentially intriguing (or plain amusing) semi-nonsensical doppelgangers.


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