Reinventing History

A new visual treat has been developed by digital enthusiast Talan Memmott and has been featured in the Spring 2016 issue of The New River Journal, a journal of digital writing and art.

In “Dérivepedia,” the reader is greeted by a text generator, which spits out endless combinations of the English language with various subjects ranging from “Tadpoles And The History Of Weather Satellites to Pliny The Elder: Constructing Ambiguous Witch Trials; from Jimi Hendrix And The Psychology Of Cowpox to Ada Lovelace In The Age Of Cool-Weather Aromatherapy.”  Think of it as Wikipedia’s alter ego. The text and images are recombined with every new click. The website houses 1000+ combinations in any possible category (people, cultures, isms, adjectives, foods, animals, things, etc.), which are interwoven into spoof history lessons, hilarious titles, and, of course, images – all to “complicate the context of the text.” Each result can be referred back to the sentence fragments captured from 400 Wikipedia entries. 

To begin, the journey is led by instinct. My cursor escorts me to the left-hand side of the screen where I am welcomed by a peculiar list of “Popular Articles.” Without question, I click on the hyperlink titled “kittens.” Expecting a slash of fuzzy and adorable articles about one of God’s greatest creations, I discover instead . . .

An article titled “Pigs: Constructing Decorated Car Keys”?


 . .  . so not exactly what I was hoping for but intriguing nonetheless. I never knew that “archaeological products can be broadly grouped into copies that can cause negative monumental damage to buildings, products or non-laminated powerful structures formed by eating chocolate . . .”

Good to know.

I think it is safe to say this is not a history lesson. College students? Although this is not Spark Notes 2.0, it does offer you a good laugh with its ridiculous fun facts. As an English major, I love to play with words, so this website was like molding Play-Doh. The combinations are endless, thus the reader becomes the author. 

A little note about the creator. Talan Memmott has a passion for digital technology and knack for interactive media. Not only is he a writer and an artist but also a researcher in an array of technological disciplines including, digital art, design, electronic lit., new media studies, and digital culture. Memmott has pursued a similar style of work in his interactive media piece titled Self Portrait(s) [as Other(s)] , which also intertwines historical texts inside a web of a different kind arbitrary language.

If you would like to learn more about this digital genius,  visit Talan Memmott’s website here.








  1 comment for “Reinventing History

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *