Anyone know an online tool that randomly scrambles the order of sentences in a body of text?
August 16, 2009 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a free, online program that, for lack of a better phrase, I'll call a random sentence scrambler? I see there are a lot of anagram makers but I want one for about 500 word bodies of text. Theoretically I could paste in the text and it would spit it out with all the words intact, the sentence structure preserved, just arranged into a new sequence. Thanks.
posted by holdenjordahl to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: hi odinsdream.
thanks for the post.
actually, the input is just the draft of any particular piece of writing, usually an essay, sometimes a chapter of fiction, that i'm working on.
what i do, laboriously (hence the post), is just randomly rearrange the sentences to see if any new thoughts, ideas, images pop into my mind.
the output is just whatever results from the shuffling.
it's a way of looking at what i already have from a different perspective. it's like the shuffle feature on the online scrabble game: you hit the button and it rearranges the letters in your holder.
when i used to do this, before i would begin the writing, i would mind map it; but i find i'm better suited to working with the words themselves and not pictures.
i recall that the surrealists and dadaists used to this with their poetry and language projects; mine's just for generating ideas on the basis of notes, and certainly not for poetry.
i hope this at least somewhat clarified your response.
thanks again.
posted by holdenjordahl at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2009

It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but software that does Markov Chain jiggerypokery may give results that fit whatever your scrambling need is.

I know there were a few desktop softwares that were used a bunch by underhand SEOs back when MFA sites were all the rage. I'm afraid I don't know of any online ones, but it could be a useful phrase to know, in future googlings.

Certainly I'd be surprised if elsewhere in the Hive mind there wasn't someone who could fill in the gaps I've left.
posted by Smoosh Faced Lion at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2009

no guarantee of coherence, but the emacs dissociated press function does this, sort of.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:45 PM on August 16, 2009

Response by poster: hi odinstream.
output A.
the integrity of each sentence's structure remains the same.
posted by holdenjordahl at 6:38 PM on August 16, 2009

Any spreadsheet program should be able to do this.
When you're typing it, make each sentence a new line and then paste it into a single column.
Then insert a random number in the next column and sort by that.

Try Google's spreadsheet utility for a free option.
posted by soelo at 6:50 PM on August 16, 2009

I like soelo's solution.

in excel "=rand()"
posted by ian1977 at 7:07 PM on August 16, 2009

Response by poster: nice elegant solution, soelo. thanks, it works great.

nice tweak, ian1977. i hardly excel with excel. "=rand()" is obviously a formula. i looked up "random number generator" in excel help and my head exploded. how do you use it, please? thanks.
posted by holdenjordahl at 9:36 PM on August 16, 2009

Best answer: Yeah it's a formula but it doesn't need any parameters. You just put "=rand()" in the formula bar (minus the quotes), hit enter and it gives you a random number between 0 and 1. Then, you can Copy the whole column and "Paste Special --> Values" if you want. I usually want bigger numbers so I multiply them all by 100 or 1,000.
posted by soelo at 10:30 AM on August 17, 2009

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