I for One Welcome Our New iPhone Overlords

So I was procrastinating real hard last night, and I finally updated my computer and phone to iOS 8 or whatever. It’s all well and good, some new minimalist aesthetics, &c. So today I open my phone’s messages and before I go to send anything, there are the words “I,” “The,” and “I’m” in little gray boxes ready to go.  After going to poetry today, I got curious and I started clicking them to compose a message, and the phone kept giving me new words that almost seemed to follow. Several non-but-almost-sense texts later, my roommate explained to me that the phone logs all of your sentences and keeps track of your most used words and word combinations in order to try to predict what you might say, in order to make it easier for you to text (read: in order to be super creepy). Now Ethan’s previous post about the Quicktype feature of iOS 8 makes sense, and the implications are even more strange and glaring to me.

I was kind of startled by the phone’s assumption that it could predict what I might say. I mean, if I want to be a writer and my phone is able to predict what I say, I might as well call it quits, right? Thankfully, phones aren’t very good at stringing together words to give a meaning in context. Quite like Christina’s “Bot or Not” post, and Ethan’s “Quicktype Poetry” post, the sentences are nonsense; word may follow word, but as a whole the sentence has no intrinsic meaning. IT doesn’t make sense. More so, I was startled by all the repeated words I was getting in the little Quicktype section. They’re mostly “I,” “The,” and so on, with a few conjunctions or things about the government thrown in here and there. So if nothing else, the Quicktype feature can serve as a reminder of our limited texting vocabularies, and it can allow us to be aware of boring language, even in the most menial modes of communication. The feature can also provide some pretty fun and weird lines and phrases, just by shuffling the language you’ve already used.

Here are some of my favorite nonsense phrases and conversations (w/lines broken where they end in the text):

My roommate:

“Okay, noted. I think
Tuesdays at 8 may work
better for the Kaiser’s
army at the beginning of
this semester and Students for a socialist
Scotland the US and Canada is a potentiality,
and I think Billy’s in that
class. I think Billy’s in
that class.”

Me:

“I’m not going to be
able to do it again in my
head hurts so bad but
the only thing that would
have to go back and I
don’t think that I can see
it as an excuse for the
next few weeks of a new
phone case is the best
thing ever.”

Roommate:

“Congress? Finally, I think
Ryan Adams has a new
self-titled album out of
the common cold. it will
not have the seller’s, I
have every day and the
downing, I have every
day and the downing, I
have every day and the
downing”

Me:

“The fact that the
government has a lot of
people in my head is
killing me.”

 

If nothing else, Quicktype conversations and poetry serve to remind us that our job as poets (and people in general) is invaluable: we give language meaning, we change it and choose it and refresh it–we don’t just take words in and spit them out in order of use. Plus really it can generate some lines that seem cool and can have uses in your poems, if they mean something to you.

5 Replies to “I for One Welcome Our New iPhone Overlords”

  1. Evan I thought this was awesome! Very unique and different type of blog post. I loved when you said, “if I want to be a writer and my phone is able to predict what I say, I might as well call it quits, right?” That is such a scary thought. If we are that predictable, then what’s the point?

    However, as we can see this definitely is not true. I don’t think you would casually say to a friend via text, “The fact that the
    government has a lot of
    people in my head is
    killing me.”

    This really makes me want to get iOS 8 now though!

    1. I’m reassured that you end this post feeling that poets become necessary as a sort of antidote to iOS 8, to give language meaning, as you nicely put it…that said, I think you and your room-mate might well be able to publish the first ever book of Quicktype poetry, if you’re quick about it…it’s compelling reading!

  2. I love this whole idea of using Quicktype to make poems. I’m still stuck in the stone ages of iOS7, so I haven’t been able to try it yet, but it’s definitely something I would check out. It sort of creeps me out, though. Kind of feels like your phone is answering you back or something, like Tom Riddle’s diary in Harry Potter.

  3. I think this is awesome! I love the poems you guys created with it too! Makes me wonder what my saved words are! (Although interestingly it will never save swear words/will always autocorrect them.)

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