I’m a writer. So I like to write about writing. I have also compiled a list of Writing Resources, which I may update from time to time.

‘A craving for literary nips’

Are things now really all that different than a century ago? How quaint will our lives today look 100 years from now? This excellent compilation of critiques about “The Pace of Modern Life” (a snippet of which is below) was created by XKCD. H/t Mike Sowden for brightening my day (and blog).

modern life

Which Famous Author Do You Write Like?

So here’s a very fun tool. I Write Like analyzes “your word choice and writing style,” then compares it to the writing of famous authors. How many authors are in the IWL database? How many of the famous authors’ texts have been analyzed? I have no idea. But there was enough data to give me three different results from three different texts.

IWL Lovecraft

When comparing a block of text from this post.

IWL Doctorow

When comparing a block of text from this post. And…

IWL Vonnegut

Ah….there we go. This was the result when I entered text from this, the most popular post on my site. I honestly don’t see the similarities at all, but who am I to argue with an algorithm?

Writing Anonymously? You May Not Stay Anonymous For Long

Stylometric identification exploits the fact that we all have a ‘fingerprint’ based on our stylistic choices and idiosyncrasies with the written word.

Here is a very interesting study about how algorithms are being used to uncover anonymous authors by studying writing style. It’s fascinating — but potentially scary stuff.

In his “Concluding Thoughts,” white paper co-author Arvind Narayanan had this to say:

We’ve thrown open the doors for the study of writing-style based deanonymization that can be carried out on an Internet-wide scale, and our research demonstrates that the threat is already real. We believe that our techniques are valuable by themselves as well.

The good news for authors who would like to protect themselves against deanonymization, it appears that manually changing one’s style is enough to throw off these attacks. Developing fully automated methods to hide traces of one’s writing style remains a challenge. For now, few people are aware of the existence of these attacks and defenses; all the sensitive text that has already been anonymously written is also at risk of deanonymization.

via Is Writing Style Sufficient to Deanonymize Material Posted Online? | 33 Bits of Entropy