Friday, July 16, 2010

The Wisdom of Computers

Yesterday I told Ariel about a site that I’d heard about that analyzes one’s writing and finds an author whose work is similar.

Now I’m skeptical about such things. I understand that a computer can decipher sentence structure and word choice, but how can a computer program analyze voice? It’s that elusive quality that makes Lizzy Bennett “sound” like Lizzy Bennett. (FYI, for my male readers--Lizzy is the heroine of Pride and Prejudice.) But back to voice. It’s the facet of a story or novel that makes you suspend disbelief so that the world of page becomes real. And, in many ways, it’s the mask that the author hides behind. A good author does it so well that you forget there’s an author at all.

But Ariel was eager to try the program out. So she took chunks of my writing—blog posts, novel chapters, etc., and plugged them into the system. After the program chewed through the text, it popped out the writer that I was most like...drumroll, please....The writer that I’m most like is Steven King. Yes, that Steven King. I’m not big on horror because, well, I have nightmares. But I’ve read his book On Writing, and it’s fantastic. But the issue is that I write Young Adult romantic comedy/fantasy (at least, that’s what a knowledgable source tells me). Okay, so that didn't work out too well.

Perhaps what we needed was a second try. Maybe the text Ariel picked was unusual. She ran another hunk of text through the system and I came out as Chuck Palahniuk, yet another horror writer according to Wikipedia.

I was about to decry the follies of computers until Ariel plugged one final chunk of text into the program. This time I came out as J.K. Rowling. Yep, those computer analysis programs are really great.

If you want to plug in your own work, here’s a link to the site. http://iwl.me/

6 comments:

  1. Andrew McPhersonJuly 16, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    I wonder if it simply randomizes the results after pretending to "read" your text. Heh heh.

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  2. I wonder how it analyzes...I got Vladimir Nabakov, so I'm not complaining :) LOL!

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  3. Yeah, I think you are more of a J.K. Rowling than a Stephen King...

    But maybe it was all that cat killing talk that ranked you with him:) I doubt it was the booger picker shooter...

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  4. That's a cool little gizmo.

    I tried it out and got David Foster Wallace. Whatever.

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  5. Hmm, well I tested a few authors on the web sight. It told me that J R R Tolkien was some lady I had never heard of, it correctly identified Dickens, and it said Shakespeare was Jane Austin. Only one out of three.

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  6. I like to follow writer’s blogs as I feel I learn from each one. I have a book of Communion devotionals at the printers which I authored, although I don’t consider myself an accomplished writer. I am a follower on your blog and invite you to follow mine as well…and please leave a comment when and if you visit.

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