Automata authors, the next generation

Professor Philip M. Parker of INSEAD was the pioneer, writing a computer program that wrote thousands and thousands of books (see one of our many appreciations of him). Now, less than donkeys’ years later, there is a next generation. Pagan Kennedy, writing (presumably by herself) in the New York Times, profiles Lambert M. Surhone and the other ghost-in-the-machinely authors of books filled with text plucked from Wikipedia:

One day, I stumbled across a book on Amazon called “Saltine Cracker.” It didn’t make sense: who would pay $54 for a book entirely about perforated crackers? The book was co-edited by someone called Lambert M. Surhone — a name that sounds like one of Kurt Vonnegut’s inventions. According to Amazon, Lambert M. Surhone has written or edited more than 100,000 titles, on every subject from beekeeping to the world’s largest cedar bucket…. Whatever he was, Lambert M. Surhone worked under the auspices of a German company, VDM Publishing. In addition to selling conventional books, VDM also extrudes thousands of paperbacks every year using content available without cost on the Internet. These books, or booklike products, lie in wait for the distracted shopper…

(HT Jess Zimmerman)

BONUS: Professor Parker, too, has a book about Saltine Crackers. Called The 2009-2014 World Outlook for Saltine Crackers, it is on sale from at a price of $795.

BONUS: Another “next generation” project is cranking out news reports.