Svada

Svada is a program that generates a meaningless stream of text, that might at first glance fool some people into believing that it carries some meaning. I've made it available for fun. It will not give you any usefull text!

Generate svada output:
I want sentences using the grammar and wordlist.
Notice that this is work in (slow) progress, so thing might change over time - hopefully to the better. If you have questions or comments, I can be reached at anders@geekhouse.no.

Questions and answers

Q: Why is is written in Rexx, and what is Rexx?
Once back in the ninties, I wrote an interpreter for a computer programming language called Rexx. Svada was initially an exercise in that language, just a "cool" program to test my interpreter and show how the language worked. You can find out more about Rexx and Regina from Mark Hesslings Rexx.org.

Q: What is the origin of Svada?
The first time I saw the program, it was written in FORTRAN for computers from Norsk Data. The original program must have been written in the late seventies or early eighties by an unknown programmer. Around 1993 I rewrote it in Rexx, porting the general idea rather than the code itself. In 2004 I set up an interface so that people could use it from the Web.

Q: Can I get my own copy?
Sure. Regina is GPL, as is Svada. Here is the source code of Svada. You need a grammar file, which exists in different flavours, but I recommend the general. If you want to set up a web interface, you need a kind of wrapper.

Q: If I wanted to put a URL on my own web page, and have it expand to a page of svada, what should it be?
Quite simple, generate a page, and cut-n-paste the URL of the newly generated page to you own HTML-code. However ... if a large number of people do this (and refers to output with zillions of lines), search engine crawlers and so forth will ensure that my site will have no bandwidth left. So please, if you want to do that, set up Svada on your own site, or at least let the 'lines=' parameter use a small number of lines.

Q:Does it work? Are anybody fooled by these texts?
I don't know ... A number of people have tried to include output from Svada into draft versions of their reports and other documents (although never in the final version, as fasr as I know). Sometimes, it has gone unnoticed, maybe because nobody looked at exactly that part of the document. If you know a good (and true) story about someone being fooled by Svada output, please tell me.

Q: If anybody are fooled, why is that so? It is just a sequence of random words linked together by a grammar.
I do not know why, but I have a theory. Many of the words in Svada's dictionaries are abstract word, or words with a fuzzy definition, or words which most people simply don't know what mean. At least, by the time they are stringed together, it is hard to extract a concrete and clear meaning. The use of such words and phrases requires some interpretation by the reader, during which the reader himself creates the only meaning of the text. Consider an example: The final aspect of an approach is functionally interwoven with a prime confrontation. At least my brain start working on this sentence like it was a jigzaw puzzle. It presumes there is a pattern or a meaning in this, and it works to find it. Along the way, it creates that meaning. (By the way, that is probably the way that Tarot and some other divination techniques works: By presenting you with white noise and require your brain - and subconscience - to work out a meaning.)

Q: Can Svada reproduce a certain output?
Technically: Yes. It uses the random() function in Rexx (which uses the equivalent function in C), and it is initialized every time Svada starts. Thus, the output will generally be different. However, I plan to enable the user to pick a seed to the random generator.