Parker’s Tremendously Typical Timelines

The word “typical” applies to each of the Webster’s Timeline History books more than it does to almost any other item of any group of anything. Each of these 90,000 books – each and every one – is authored, directly or indirectly, by Philip Parker, a professor at INSEAD, the international business school in France. He wrote a computer program that writes books, a few thousand of which I described here a few years ago. The Webster’s Timeline History books are something special. The publisher, Icon Group International, Inc, describes each in identical language. Here’s the teaser for a book entitled Bellyaching: Webster’s Timeline History, 1879-2007:

“Webster’s bibliographic and event-based timelines are comprehensive in scope, covering virtually all topics, geographic locations and people. They do so from a linguistic point of view, and in the case of this book, the focus is on Bellyaching, including when used in literature (eg all authors that might have Bellyaching in their name). As such, this book represents the largest compilation of timeline events associated with Bellyaching when it is used in proper noun form.” …

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.