Here is a simple way to customize your gnome desktop to show random text taken from a file. I use it to learn Chinese, but it can be easily modified for any other kind of textual information.
This is how I did it:
Using inkscape, I made a template SVG file for the background. I started from the default gnome 3 wallpaper, and I added three text elements: one for the Chinese characters, one for the pinyin, and one for the English translation. In place of the text I used
"@english@". Later my script will substitute those placeholder words with the correct values.
I created a input file with all the entries I want to learn. The file looks like this:
容易 [rong2 yi4] easy 決心 [jue2 xin1] determination 期待 [qi1 dai] to look forward 冷淡 [leng3 dan4] cold, indifferent 寂寞 [ji4 mo4] lonely 突然 [tu1 ran2] sudden 反正 [fan3 zheng] anyway 招牌 [zhao1 pai] signboard 討厭 [tao3 yan4] to dislike 努力 [nu3 li4] great effort, to strive 原諒 [yuan2 liang4] to excuse, to forgive, to pardon
I wrote this python script. Every 10 minutes, the script would pick a new random entry from my input file, generate a png file from the svg template, and run the gsettings command to use it as a new wallpaper.
I added the script to my startup application (using gnome-session-properties).
Log out and log in again. Now my wallpaper looks something like this: