Review: See what's on your computer's mind with Machine Essays for Mac

See what happens when you pull random words from random characters with this quirky program.

Machine Essays for Mac is one of the oddest and least useful programs we've ever encountered, and yet, we find ourselves kind of charmed by it. Inspired by the infinite monkey theorem, Machine Essays asks your computer to generate blocks of random characters and then identifies any English words that happen to appear, stringing them together in non-grammatical sentences. Why? No reason, really, except that the results can be kind of interesting.

Machine Essays for Mac has a surprising number of features and options. Users can choose from two different word lists, one with more obscure -- and ultimately nonsensical -- words on it, or one with more familiar options. The minimum word length is four characters, but users can set it higher if desired. CPU usage can be adjusted, as well. Once you've configured Machine Essays the way you want it, click "Start," and the program will start creating blocks of characters and pulling the words out. You can alternate between viewing the "raw buffer" -- the strings of random letters -- and the words found, which are arranged in sentences, though they lack any order or grammar. Machine Essays can also speak its results aloud as it searches, creating an odd stream-of-computer-consciousness speech. A Help file explains both how Machine Essays works and the creator's reasons for making it. The program is fun to play around with, though in our experience it fell short of spontaneously reproducing any of Shakespeare's works.

Machine Essays for Mac installs and uninstalls without issues. And while it may not be necessary, it can be fun.

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