I Write Like Me

Kevin Drum reports that “the internet toy du jour is a site that supposedly analyzes your writing and tells you which famous writer you most resemble.

So I have to try it. First try, a random blog post, produced this horror:

I write like
Isaac Asimov

(Asimov: good ideas, bad writing.)

Second try, the first three pages from a paper I'm writing produced something even worse:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

OK, it's a paper about ICANN, and thus something of a horror show, but even so…

Fortunately, Kevin Drum thinks there's nothing to it.

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3 Responses to I Write Like Me

  1. C.E. Petit says:

    George Orwell’s “Why I Write” also returns H.P. Lovecraft. Go figure.

  2. michael says:

    If it had said I write like Orwell, I would have been very flattered.

  3. I just ran the first ten of H. P. Lovecraft stories from http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/ through it and got:

    Like H. P. Lovecraft:
    The Alchemist
    The Book
    The Call of Cthulhu
    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

    Like George Orwell:
    At the Mountains of Madness

    Like James Joyce
    Azathoth
    Celephais

    Like Mary Shelley
    The Beast in the Cave
    Beyond the Wall of Sleep

    Like Neil Gaiman
    The Cats of Ulthar

    On this small sample, it seems to be about 40% accurate.

    This kind of statistical analysis of texts made a stir in the 1980s when it was used for a case in, er, Sweden I think, to prove that some document had been written by a particular individual. I went to an AI seminar about it once: they had about 40 measures that they had discovered to be fairly constant, ranging from the density of the word “and” and the ratio of “a” to “an” (no kidding!). They tried a similar thing for music; I don’t know how much success they had, though.

    If you’re interested in this kind of thing, check out http://www.philocomp.net/humanities/signature – it’s free for academic use.

    Richard

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