Internet chat: poetry for our time

Adam Gopnik remarks on the weirdness of last week, in which New Yorkers’ preoccupations shifted “from alert orange to heavenly white and back to the usual muddle of slush.”

While the media have been unable to keep tabs on public opinion, Gopnik says a machine at the Whitney is perfectly designed to do just that.

[It probes] all the unrestricted Internet chat rooms in the English-speaking world and dredge[s] up thousands upon thousands of random sentences even as they are being typed. The casual remarks, desperate pleas, and lecherous queries that are sucked out of the stream of world chatter are then relayed in various ways on the two hundred or so small screens and ten loudspeakers that make up the machine’s public face.


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