I Write Like
The brainwavez.org Centre For The Easily Amused

United States of America By: Jase Luttrell on 29 July 2010
Category: CFEA ( widgets )
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Do you fancy yourself the next Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, or Palahniuk? Now you can determine which famous author your writing resembles by merely entering a sample of your text into an analyser so dust off that manuscript you've been wanting to submit and discover if you, too, could make The New York Times Best Seller list.

I first heard about Dmitry Chestnykh's computer algorithm on NPR in mid July after it had already done the rounds on Twitter and Facebook. I'm not slow to catch on to Internet memes, I simply have a to-do list a mile long and, unfortunately for my inchoate aspirations to be a writer, this was towards the bottom of the list. Nevertheless, in anticipation of the Cape Town Book Fair, I thought it should be highlighted here for some quick amusement.

I Write Like
Dmitry Chestnykh is a Russian software programmer at the helm of the company Coding Robots and he created I Write Like as a marketing tool for his company. I Write Like is really quite simple: enter some English text into the site's text box, press the "analyze" button, and then you are informed of the author your writing most resembles. The site uses a Bayesian Classifier, most commonly used in email to fight spam. Chestnykh entered samples of writings from 50 authors, ranging in style from Edgar Allen Poe, to Anne Rice, James Joyce, and Mark Twain, to name a few. He then wrote code to tell the analyser to compare user-submitted entries with the text samples in the database, and output a result that describes the closest literary match. The analyser now includes an undisclosed amount of author comparisons, many of which have been suggested by users.

I've entered some pieces of my own writing (from a creative writing class I took in March 2010). The text I entered is below:

“He soughs with distress, the low susurrus expanding in the air, touching the paper with uneasy heaviness. The tension of the desire he possesses cripples him; too many words exist that could fill this space. He ponders the futility of his actions: will anyone recognize the strain and struggle he faces? Surely they will not, as most people lazily scan through the colloquy without giving them the attention they warrant. The Writer pauses to let the coffee pass between his lips. The struggle persists. Through palpitations and sweaty palms, he progresses; he overcomes the struggle of the first all-important word. He moves beyond the apprehension, only to face the pain again for the second word, which must equal but cannot rival ‘the’.”

This, apparently, is similar to Edgar Allen Poe.

Next, I inputted the second paragraph of my brainwavez.org review for the novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, which resulted in a comparison to Jonathan Swift.

I must say I am very proud my writing bears resemblance to two incredible authors but I certainly take this with a grain of salt (and my advice is that you should as well).

You then have the option of using the Badge generated by the analysis of your text, which you can post on your blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Google Buzz pages to inform your friends of your writing prowess.

The enjoyment of the site stems from the quick validation of your efforts - it may have taken you hours to write your bit of prose but only a fraction of a second to know that your compositions bear a similarity to a prolific author. Of course, the real enjoyment comes from the ability to learn about another author. Some of my first uses of the analyser returned David Foster Wallace, and I am ashamed to admit I am unfamiliar with his work. Without I Write Like, I may have remained ignorant of this celebrated, though tragic, writer. This effect may be unintended but it is really the most remarkable aspect of the site. It is not merely a tool to pass a few short minutes of time, it can introduce you to the works of writers and essayists you may not have known, which is the true genius behind I Write Like.

brainwavez.org Opinion Share/Bookmark
Rating: 7/10
Time-Wasting Value: One to two 2 minutes, or more if you don’t have anything already written
Learning Curve: Easy
Entertainment Value: 2/10

Key Facts
Official Site: http://www.iwl.me/
Developer: Dmitry Chestnykh

On The Internet
I Write Like: Official Site | Facebook | NPR | Twitter

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