Randomness

Randomness occurs when a series has no apparent pattern.

Randomness is part of how the Charlie Sheen Quote Generator works. The other part is cocaine.

What science calls a Random Graph.

This is another type of Random Graph.

Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously.

Human beings like patterns. It's in our nature. We prefer when outcomes follow an understandable cause-effect relationship. In most cases, and for most of history, unpredictability was considered a nuisance.

Pinkie Pie, You Are So Random.
Ponies get annoyed by randomness, too.

While non-intuitive at first glance, random factors proved their value fairly early. Ancient cultures developed many ways of generating random symols in an attempt to circumvent fate, whether by tossing and reading the patterns of yarrow stalks to get I Ching hexagrams, throwing dice, or pulling cards from a deck. Many of these divination techniques survive as games of chance in modern society.

Since then, randomness has become intrinsic to fields such as probability (which factors into everything from the stock market to marketing) and computer science. We're going to explore how it has also infiltrated popular culture, via a series of random and possibly unconnected examples.

Hat Trick

A technique of randomly generating text, called Cut-Up, became very popular during the 20th century. It was pioneered by avant-garde poet Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the Dadaist movement. Performing at the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub, he would pull words out of a hat and recite them in real time as a poem. This technique influenced the later novels of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, and the lyrics of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke.

Eventually the process became computerized, using Markov probability chains, which is how spammers generate that oh-so-lifelike conversational text in their emails and forum posts.

Word Salad

A lot of times when people talk about being random, especially on the internet, this is usually what they mean. It's a practice of "humorously" throwing together a bunch of random words for the purpose of hyperbole or to express how far they think outside the box. Many people that utilize this technique tend to think of themselves as the next James Joyce or Hunter S Thompson, just without the years of literary/journalistic cred both acquired before they began to experiment with non-linear writing. It's a pretty safe bet that marijuana is involved in this thought process.