A Travel Guide is a location-based, mobile-centric application for creating poetic texts in the style of the travel guide. The project has as its goal to give visitors an alternate reading of place, through the serendipitous juxtaposition of their current location with evocative procedural text. As more people visit the site, more travel guides will be generated, until eventually the surface of the planet has been blanketed with travel guides. The guides are generated randomly and so not traditionally “accurate.” You may need to try harder than usual to apply the information contained in these guides to the locations in question.The guides are generated from a database of sentences from Wikivoyage (“the free worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit”). The generation algorithm randomly selects sentences from similarly-named sections across all WikiVoyage pages, rejecting sentences that contain proper nouns. The text created by this procedure has the familiar cadence of travel guides, but describe no place—or every place—in particular.
A Travel Guide is a 2014 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence.org website. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation, now celebrating 50 years of the creative spirit of emerging artists.
Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer who lives in Brooklyn. Her teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet. She holds a masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications program and BA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley. Allison’s recent book, “@Everyword: The Book” (Instar Books, 2015), collects every tweet from @everyword, a Twitter bot she made that tweeted every word in the English language over the course of seven years—attracting over 100,000 followers along the way. She has held fellowships and residencies with the Processing Foundation, the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, and Recurse Center in New York City. She has been invited to present and speak about work at such venues as Eyeo, ProcJam, OSCON, PyGotham and IndieCade East. Allison is currently the Digital Creative Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University and an adjunct professor at ITP, where she teaches a course on writing computer programs that generate poetry.