(written for 3QD)
Google recently introduced Google Voice, which routes calls among different lines, performs other screening and call handling tasks, and automatically generates a written record of each phone message using voice transcription software. I've had it for months. I'm not going to complain about the transcription software's high error rates, although lots of people do. It's free, for crying out loud. Where do people get off complaining so much about free stuff? They don't have to use it if they don't want to use it.
But that's not my point. My point is, I think I've noticed something about these Google Voice transcriptions: I see an authorial sensibility taking form, like a face emerging from a cloud bank. These transcriptions can be read as poetry.
At its most accurate, Google Voice gives a surprising dignity to some simple messages merely by rendering them in written language. At its most interpretative, the results could give a Surrealist vertigo.
Roll over, Brion Gysin, and tell Bill Burroughs the news: There's a new sheriff in Cut-Up Land, and his motto is Don't Be Evil. Below are some real-life examples of this new poet's work, taken from my own phone messages. Since the transcript/poem often bears little resemblance to the actual words spoken, who are the real authors - the Voice, the callers, or some synergistic combination of forces beyond our limited understanding?
Here: Decide for yourself.