Rita, me, and computational literature

Haikus were a big thing at Automattic. I got to liking them and enjoyed reading their bits of wisdom throughout the internets. These quick little quips of text could spark a whole rabbit hole of thought. And as many computational designers have done before me, I set out to build my own haiku generator.

See the Pen Click for a haiku by Mapk (@mapk) on CodePen.


The first thing that I came upon was a niche of AI writing and computational literature. In fact, in 2016, there was a case in which an AI written novel almost won a literary award. I was hooked. Searching for others in this arena was not difficult. I came across Allison Parrish’s site and explored all those nuggets of gold. After reading quit a bit, I found Rita.

Rita is a software toolkit for computational literature, and it is open source! The website provides an offering of tutorials and documentation. Without digging too deep, I just wanted to get some words onto a screen. That is where the JavaScript library came in handy. I opened up a Codepen.io pen and began trying it out.

I am an avid fan of p5.js and fortunately for me, I saw some documentation on how to sync up my p5 canvas with Rita. With that bit of help, I was able to get up and running.

While I could get the words to display on the screen, I needed to coerce the sentence syntax into something readable. This required a few edits of inserted text to make the haiku jive smoothly. It ended up looking something like this.

the _____ _____ 
_____ in the _____ _____
I _____ ______

The underlined spaces were where Rita would fill in the appropriately syllabized words.

The project was enjoyable, and I would like to create further works using computational text. I am sure something like this can lead to a published novel. But for that, I will need to learn more about analyzing text and enforcing proper grammar and literary devices for such an endeavor.

You have reached the end
Now begin again


Rita on GitHub

Posted in txt