Life FAQ

#MeaningOfLife

Rui Pedro Martins

Abstract

The concept of “uncreative writing,” explored by artist Kenneth Goldsmith around notions such as appropriation and remixing, addresses the possibilities of writing in the digital age in which we live. Textual production assumes an unprecedented magnitude, partly due to the production of textual content by machines at a higher speed than the human capacity for its reading.

 

According to this premise, Life FAQ proposes a reflection on the forms of writing and reading characteristic of social networks, where filtering and summarization become essential. Consequently, the radicalization of the textual summary is explored, taking a philosophical essay, and the density that characterises it, proceeding to its compression and extreme reduction to the 140 characters of a tweet.

 

The project explores the duality between reflection and immediacy by contrasting the inherent extension of the attempt to answer philosophical questions with the imperative summary and immediacy that the tweet imposes. An essay composed of excerpts from readers’ texts on the Philosophy Now website, is subjected to two summarization processes, executed side by side, each producing a tweet. While the mechanical process resorts to the algorithm of auto-summarize online tools, the human process is performed in two phases. Through the website of the project, the user is challenged to read the text in a time trial, according to a speed-reading process. After completing the summary, the readers can submit their brief answer to the question What’s the meaning of life?

 

The end result takes the form of a book that compiles the tweets resulting from mechanical determinism, alongside the results of human execution and interpretation. The same website that serves the production of tweets, also contextualises the explored summary procedures, seeking to highlight the contrast between the automated processing of the machine and the subjectivity inherent in human interpretation.

the web

uncreative writing
summary
automation
existential questions
twitter