Marshall Mallicoat

Found Poetry

Published

A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.

While reading a news article [1] with the w3m text-based Web browser, I noticed some strange sentences interspersed in the markup gore you typically see when reading the Web without JavaScript.

The UK government warns Trump that war with Iran 'is in none of our interests'

Adam Bienkov
2020-01-03T10:33:25Z
 The letter F.  An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.  An
image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url.  A stylized bird
with an open mouth, tweeting.  The word "in".  A stylized letter F.
 Three evenly spaced dots forming an ellipsis: "...". Two crossed lines that
form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a
notification.
Donald Trump Boris Johnson Donald Trump Boris Johnson [5e0f163885]
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Getty

The parts that stuck out to me were:

  • The letter F.
  • An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.
  • An image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url.

And so on. What are these things anyway? Looking at the source of the page, I saw it has a bunch of icons which are also hyperlinks. The icon class contains a non-standard HTML tag <desc> which contains a description of the icon (perhaps in a gesture of accessibility toward people with vision impairment). The icon block looks something like this:

<a href="https://www.facebook.com">
    <svg class="svg-icon facebook-icon">
        <title id="title">Facebook Icon</title>
        <desc id="desc">The letter F.</desc>
    </svg>
</a>

The body of the <desc> element get dumped into the visible text in the w3m browser. I wrote a little Python script to extract these descriptions.

import re

with open('news_article.html', 'r') as f:
    article = f.read()

snippets = re.findall(r'<desc id="desc">(.*)<\/desc>', article)

with open('snippets.txt', 'w') as f:
    f.write('\n'.join(snippets))

Finally, here are all these little snippets standing alone, with the article and other junk stripped out. Read together, they have some majesty.

A vertical stack of three evenly spaced horizontal lines.
A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search".
The words "Business Insider".
An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile.
An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile.
The word Business
The word Life
The word News
A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search".
The word "Insider".
Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.
The word Business
The word Life
The word News
The word All
An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile.
An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile.
An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options."
The letter F.
A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.
The word "in".
A play button in the shape of a television screen.
A stylized camera.
The letter F.
An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.
An image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url.
A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.
The word "in".
A stylized letter F.
Three evenly spaced dots forming an ellipsis: "...".
Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.
A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.

[1]Bienkov, Adam. "The UK government warns Trump that war with Iran 'is in none of our interests'." Business Insider, 3 Jan. 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/uk-warns-donald-trump-against-launching-war-iran-qassem-soleimani-2020-1. Accessed 13 March 2020.