»I write like«: Oh, the joys of being analyzed by algorithms!

The website »I write like«, according to the guys who run it, features a »statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.« Fun! So I fed the tool some of my hackwork and I’m proud to say that my writing apparently resembles that of the grandmaster of modern horror fiction, H.P. Lovecraft. By the way, that’s an estimate based on a sample of my academic writing. If my professor’s going to tell me that cold sweat was running down her back while she was reading my Master’s thesis, I’ll have the perfect excuse!

Of course I wouldn’t accept that appraisal without double-checking, so I offered the very same analysis tool some snippets from other writers I’ve been concerned with lately. So I’m joined in my Lovecraftian ways by 19th century poet Emily Dickinson, while my favorite 18th century radical, Thomas Paine, is barred from our group and placed with Charles Dickens. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President in 2008, supposedly wrote her memoirs in the mold of sci-fi humorist Douglas Adams. And Jonathan Safran Foer writes like James Joyce (Eating Animals), David Foster Wallace (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), and Kurt Vonnegut (Everything is Illuminated) all at once. Which is too bad, because now I know there’s no way of writing distinctly like Foer, who’s one of my favorite novelists.

Finally, I put in a couple of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and he actually does write like Shakespeare (as does gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson).

Literary criticism: One thing they won’t be able to outsource to Mr. Google all too soon.


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