July 15th, 2010

Warning: Memetic Hazard

It's All About MEME: "I Write Like" Meme.

wordslinger might find this amusing, as it's tangentially related to her much more rigorous project of stylistic analysis.

To be honest, I was going to blow this one off for two reasons:

One, because the results have been so varied that it's become a matter of parody;

And two, because I didn't think I'd produced a body of work with any degree of consistency in recent years. Certainly, I haven't cranked out any fiction in a long while.

I changed my mind for two reasons:

One, because leonard_arlotte reported remarkably consistent results from his LiveJournal entries;

And two, because I realized that my comics blog was a deliberate attempt to maintain a consisten "voice" throughout its long-form entries.

Out of ten long-form entries, I got the following results:

One J. D. Salinger:

I write like
J. D. Salinger

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Four H. P. Lovecraft:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And five David Foster Wallace:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

...to which I can only echo leonard_arlotte's reaction: who?

Illiterate Philistine that I am, I've never read Salinger. The Lovecraft results, however, did not surprise me in the least; like HPL, I have a penchant for purple prose, archaic adjectives, and gratuitous grandiloquence. I suspect that if the algorithm were keyed to identify italics, my writing would have shown even more kinship to that of Unca Howard. One of the HPL-tagged episodes did, in fact, have several FULLY CAPITALIZED PASSAGES, though that was more in emulation of Jack "King" Kirby; I rather doubt that the meme-encoders included his Groovily Bombastic Scriptage in their algorithms.

Were I in a more frivolous mood, and had more respect for the underlying algorithms of random internettery, I might dig out some of my college papers (aside from the one that got repurposed as a KDDR entry) and see how they test out; even when I'm writing serious technical discourse, my florid style often bleeds through, and I can never resist a good chain of alliteration.

For the record, I analyzed this post, and got H.P. Lovecraft again. Given that I found myself deliberately emphasizing the Lovecraftian tendencies of my style as I wrote, that's not only unsurprising, but quite probably biased: "gaming the game", as it were. So, grains of salt all around, and 'ware your blood pressure, all and sundry.
If the meme-writers had my sense of humor, any text that referenced the "I Write Like" page itself would be weighted toward Douglas Hofstadter.



leonard_arlotte says, "Now the true test would be to enter some text from a particular author, and see if it comes back with that author's name"
athelind grauphs, "LOL!"
athelind grauphs, "I think it's just a very noisy algorithm with huge error bars. it's not ENTIRELY fatuous, since it tells me that I write like H.P. Lovecraft much of the time, in circumstances where, yes, I'm deliberately trying to write like HPL."
leonard_arlotte says, "My point is, does H.P. Lovecraft write like H.P.Lovecraft?"
athelind grauphs, "Indeed. And there's public domain HPL stuff online to use as a test case."
athelind grauphs, "... dammit. go to lunch. I'll test it."
leonard_arlotte says, "thank you."

Plugging in the text of "The Colour Out of Space", we find that H.P. Lovecraft ...

H.P. Lovecraft writes like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

... writes like Stephen King.

I totally need an Athelind Rolling In the Hoard Laughing icon.