Cut 'n' Mix User Guide Page 1
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Cut'n'Mix Version 5.4 New Features Summary:
  • On-the-fly edits to words in the Virtual Cut-up Board
  • Text Shuffle (text randomize) is no longer limited to words as the only units acted upon: now the user can select a group of words (snips of size 1-4 words) as a shuffle unit. Sentences can also be designated as units to be randomized. There is even an option to randomly shuffle the word positionings inside each sentence of a text sample.
  • Word Statistics is a new function which counts the frequency of words in the output area
Section 1: Cut'n'Mix Basic Theory of Operation:
The Cut 'n' Mix application helps creative writers generate new ideas through the use of different methods of text randomization and manipulation. Back in the early 1990s, the early precursor version of the application (then called "Word Demon") simply tried to automate the "cut-up" technique: a process whereby individual words are cut out of the original context and reordered (either randomly or intentionally). In 1997, the first version of Cut'n'Mix to include multi-source text mixing was released. The intention was to create the same kind of look-and-feel you might find in a 4-track audio cassette recorder but with the capability to mix text instead of sound. Subsequent versions added word shredding and gluing, morphing, swapping, random word fill, web page fill and a "custom wordbook" function to allow users to store their own word databases. Version 5.3 added a new section called "ROBOPOEM" which uses poetry-generating algorithms to rearrange user text into robotic poetry.
How to use Cut'n'Mix
Cut'n'Mix as a Text Randomizer

There are an unlimited number of different ways in which Cut'n'Mix can be used. To use Cut'n'Mix as a basic, automated cut-up engine, type or paste some text or load a text file into the main text area "Output". As of Version 5.4, you can now select which type of shuffle you want to apply from the dropdown placed next to the shuffle button. The options are:
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Inside Sentences
Click the [shuffle] button (from the "Output Effects" section). Words, word groups or sentences will automatically be rearranged into a new random sequence. Each new click will produce a completely new random rearrangement.
Quick Links to explanations of other text processing functions of Cut'n'Mix:

  • for help using the ROBOPOEM functions, read the ROBOPOEM help page
  • to find out how to use Cut'n'Mix word shredding and gluing to help find new names for products, businesses or rock bands, read the Naming help
  • to find out how random word pools can be used in creative writing, read about Shakespeare's Brain
  • Text mixing and effects processing are described below:

Cut'n'Mix now includes a word counting algorithm which can show how many occurrences of a word are found in a given text sample. ONLY THE TOP 100 WORDS ARE REPORTED. The standard report lists each word followed by the number of times the word occurs and what percentage this represents of the total word pool. Percentages can be helpful to writers of online content who are trying to achieve SEO (search engine optimization) objectives. The "words only" option does not display a report, rather it replaces the word pool provided in the main "Output" area with only the top 100 most frequently occurring words, repeated the number of times counted from the original text sample. The remaining option "Filter" means that the counting algorithm will ignore a preselected batch of commonly occurring words like "a","the","to","it" etc. as these words do not generally indicate anything very interesting about the text sample.
Cut'n'Mix Mixing and Output Effects:
The relationships between the different Cut'n'Mix text mixing components are illustrated below:

  1. Open and fill input track(s): Any number or combination of the four tracks can be used.

    Click on the track view button to open the track viewer for a specific track. Placed next to the track view button, the track indicator button is green when words are to be drawn from a given track. Even when the track view window is closed, words will continue to be drawn until the track indicator button is clicked to the off (red) position.

    Each of the four input tracks and the output mix text area can be filled with words in a number of different ways:
    1. File or paste: either opening a file or pasting text from the Windows clipboard. (Only plain text files can be loaded, but you can paste directly from word processing applications.)
    2. Web Page Fill: if your computer is connected to the Internet, clicking the "GO" button will grab words from the web page specified by whatever URL has been typed or pasted into the "http://" text input. This function strips out as many formatting codes as possible from the fetched page to try to get a clean sample of the content words.
    3. Random word fill: A random selection of words are inserted into the track text area.
    4. Author text fill:

      The author text fill gets a pool of random words from any one of a number of different preloaded "wordbooks". There are two dropdown selectors which will determine where the random fill will come from: either from a "Classic Author's Text" or from a user - created "Custom Wordbook". Cut 'n' Mix is preloaded with 50 wordbooks containing random samplings of texts by authors such as James Joyce, Coleridge, Plato and Shakespeare. Cut 'n' Mix users can also create their own wordbooks from text files. Creating a custom wordbook has advantages over filling tracks directly from text files: The simple text file import only reads text from the first 100 lines of a file, whereas a wordbook can contain the whole contents of a novel. (The size of a wordbook is really only limited by your patience, as the database load process can be time consuming for very large text files.) When a text fill is requested from a custom wordbook, the random word selections will be made from any point from throughout the whole length of the original file. Once a wordbook has been loaded, the text is permanently stored in the Cut 'n' Mix database across different sessions, (or until the user chooses to delete it).

  2. Adjust the input track settings: The way in which words will be drawn from each track is influenced by two settings, snip size and probability fader: The "snip size" determines how many consecutive words will be included in each cut. The "probability fader" increases or decreases the probability that random picks will be made from the relevant track (when weighed against the probability settings for all of the other active tracks).

  3. Execute Mix: Each time the mix button is clicked, a new, unique mix of all open tracks is created. Words (or word clusters in cases where snip size is greater than 1) are randomly drawn and inserted into the output text area. Alternately, the random selection process can be defeated and replaced with sequential selection by toggling the "sequential mix" indicator underneath the mix button. The sequential process draws words or sentence fragments from tracks 1 to 4 in sequence (ignoring the probability fader positions).

  4. Output Effects: The contents of the main text area can be processed with the use of different output effects:

    • Shuffle - Individual words, multi-word clips OR sentences from the main "Output" text area are randomly rearranged. Hint: The larger the unit to be shuffled, the more likely the output will tend to retain some semblence of "meaning".

    • Morph - Slightly skews the meaning of text by replacing each word with a randomly selected synonym (a word which means the same thing or at least something similar).

    • Replacer - This effect analyzes each word in the output area and assigns it to one of several predefined categories. From within the identified category, a randomly selected replacement is made.

    • Virtual Cut-up Board - Works like the popular "fridge magnet poetry". The first 100 words from the main text area are sent to a different interactive window where they can be dragged around with the mouse. Click and hold down the left mouse button over a word to drag it around the cut-up board.

      This provides a quick way of intentionally reordering the words (or word fragments) in any output mix. In the top right hand corner of the board there is a button to take a snapshot of the reordered words in the sequence which they are currently displayed:

      Clicking this button will trigger a read-only popup window containing text ordered in the same way as it has been arranged on the screen (a standard clipboard cut or copy method won't work in the Cut-up board because the new sequence is not recognized). Do a Ctrl+C keboard sequence (standard Windows hotkey for "copy") to get this text into the Windows clipboard. After closing the cut-up board, the copied, reordered text can be pasted back into the Cut 'n' Mix output text area or into another word processing application.

      On-the-fly edits: As of Version 5.4, the first letter of each word is also a link which triggers an edit window. You can click on this link to change any word on the Cut-up board. (Unfortunately, due to technical limitations, each word can be edited only once in a single session).

      * NOTE: Other Cut 'n' Mix functions are not accessible while the Cut-up board is open

    • Ransom Note Builder - Creates a "ransom note" out of the OUTPUT area words. (Words are rebuilt in a graphic format where each letter is represented in magazine or newspaper cutout fonts.) A browser is launched to display the ransom notes to allow for easy saving or printing of the results.

    *Note* - because computer resoures are heavily taxed by these effects, only a limited chunk of the output text is processed each time. (Allowing large text samples to be effected would tie up the computer's CPU for long periods of time).

  5. Output functions: The input tracks and the main text area have several common text editing options. Aside from the familiar cut/copy/paste there are three functions that will work a little differently than in a regular word processing application:

    1. Fonts - Any font changes apply to the whole output area. Because the words are rearranged constantly, it is technically beyond the capabilities of the application to maintain multiple font formatting options within the output text area.
    2. Printing - The output area is routed directly to your default printer. No formatting options are available.
    3. Open file - Only plain text (.txt) files will load. If you want to use files saved in other formats, you can resave them first as plain text from within your main word processing application. Only the first chunk of large texts is loaded into the output (and input) areas - this prevents excessive wait times for processing functions.
    4. Saving - Files can be saved either as plain or rich text. If you want to retain the font formatting for further editing in other word processing apps, save as rtf . If you want to keep an output for further processing in a future Cut 'n' Mix session, it is preferable to save as txt . (You can also paste back into the output area after reloading rtf into another application to retain the font formatting).

Next Section: Cut 'n' Mix ROBOPOEM functions