Simple Reader

As we set out to design and build our readers, we began with the notion of a Simple Reader, one which simply moves through a piece of typographically sited text in the order of words prescribed by the standard practice of reading in the West. The underlying impetus was to create readers that had some of the characteristics of cellular automata, with rules that visualized reading strategies. In order to do this, we first had to develop a concept of typographic neighborhood (follow the link for more on this topic). Then we began to design readers that diverged in terms of a viable pathway based on linguistic properties and relationships between words that had been read and words in their neighborhood that might be read.

Perigram Reader

Having read a word, the Perigram Reader decides what to read next by paying particular attention to this last word’s 'easterly' neighbors, those to its right, but not only the next word in a normal reading order—words immediately above or below are also of interest to this reader. If it finds that either the word above or below would form a Perigram, a short sequence of statistically probable natural language, it may diverge, if only slightly, from a normal human reading path. This reader has, nonetheless, been given a weighted tendency to move steadily through a text as most human readers would.

The Unconstrained Perigram Reader is a variety of the Perigram Reader that is less constrained than its cousin. Having read a word, this reader also looks around at its a typographic neighbors. Whereas the Perigram Reader is only interested in its 'easterly' neighbors, this reader will consider whether any adjacent word, even the preceding word, would form a perigram. If it finds such a phrase, the reader may read in the direction of the viable word. This reader wanders and may be momentarily caught in eddies and loops. It is also, however, weighted to proceed slowly through the text. Visually, it 'haloes' the words at the center of its attention.

A Perigram Reader moving through the text of Misspelt Landings

This type of reader checks its NE and SE neighbors for potential 3-gram-completing next words. If it finds a completing word then its reading path may diverge, effectively also generating an alternative text. In addition it visually highlights (here, in gray) its leading neighbors, the ones that it is checking for phrase-completions. The word currently being read is in black.

An Unconstrained Perigram Reader moving through the text of Misspelt Landings

This reader checks all of its surrounding neighbors for potential 3-gram-completing next words and thus it may wander and loop through the text while also generating an alternative text. It fades out its neighbors as it reads, ‘haloing’ its point of attention.

Spawning Reader

A Spawning Reader is one that is able to spawn other readers in its neighborhood. Whether it does spawn or not may depend on any number of criteria. We have implemented a reader that spawns when individual words in its neighborhood complete a perigram. This may happen in any direction except the backwards or forwards direction in which the spawning reader is itself moving.

A fertile Spawning Reader could itself be of any type. So far we have implemented a Simple Spawning Reader, in other words one that moves through the text like the (infertile) Simple Reader described above.

In principle, readers of any type might be generated by a Spawning Reader, and its spawned readers, in turn, might be fertile. This would quickly produce a complex visual display. Spawned readers may however be infertile and may also be coded to 'die' in certain circumstances. For example, our current Simple Spawning Reader produces infertile Perigram Readers that are constrained to move in the direction that they were spawned. They can only continue to exist if they find further perigrams in that same direction. In the typographic space of conventional prose this means that they will usually die within three generations or less.

A simple Spawning Reader moving through the text of Misspelt Landings

A 'simple reader,' in ochre, spawns infertile (non-spawning) perigram readers, in gray, if words in any and all of its neighboring directions complete perigrammic 3-grams. These spawned readers can only travel in the direction that they were spawned and they die if the next word in that direction does not complete a 3-gram.

Mesostic Reader

The Mesostic Reader has a short fragment of written language—a word, phrase, or longer piece of text—that it wants to spell out. It moves through a text looking for words that contain the letters, one-by-one, of the (typically) shorter text that it spells. When it finds a word that contains a required letter, the reader capitalizes the letter in place. The reader’s choice of word is further constrained by an engineered tendency—shared with other readers—to compose perigrams.

A Mesostic Reader moving through the text of Misspelt Landings

This type of reader does not use pay attention to its immediate typographic neighborhood. It looks for words that contain letters in a phrase that it is 'spelling out', here: "writing through reading through ..." It does attempt to find phrases that are also perigrammic, but its priority is spelling out its phrase.

Grammatical Reader

The Grammatical Lookahead Reader does 'look ahead' as it reads, but it has also 'looked ahead' in the sense that it has learned something of the grammatical patterning of the text it has read thus far. With this acquired information in store it jumps forwards to words that fit equally well within the grammatical structure of the passage it is reading. By also considering the syntagmatic context, it brings words back into phrases that might well have contained them and anticipates readings normally still to come, leaving strange lacuna in the text while still preserving aspects of its style.