Are you Tolstoy or are you Dan Brown? Ask ‘I Write Like.’ Then disregard answer
The current Internet buzz is a website called I Write Like.
It’s completely idiotic, useless, fallacious, ridiculous, meaningless—but fun.
For about ten minutes. Then you move on to the next mindless fad. Then you die. Oops, went one step too far.
How I Write Like works is pretty simple. You paste a snatch of your—or anyone’s—writing into the box, click on “analyze” and you’re informed which famous author you write like.
(I’d give you the hyperlink but the damn thing isn’t working. Sorry. But you can find it. You’re a resourceful dude.)
I pasted my latest blog post into the machine, clicked “analyze” and up came: “I write like J.K. Rowling.”
Of course I immediately wondered: What happens if I input some of my other stuff? Will I still write like J.K.?
Nope. Next two tries found me writing like 1. Dan Brown and 2. Charles Dickens.
Nothing but humongous best sellers. So how come I’m not worth $47 million and being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey?
Next, I decided to see who the columnists of The New York Times write like. Results:
David Brooks: David Foster Wallace
Maureen Dowd: Kurt Vonnegut
Paul Krugman: David Foster Wallace
Gail Collins: David Foster Wallace
At this point, I pretty much lost interest in playing with I Write Like. Its limitations and flaws were looming larger and more obvious by the second.
And this was before I read the interview in The Awl (no helpful hyperlink here either. Got to call my tech guy.) with the creator of I Write Like.
Who turns out to be a baby-faced, 27-year-old Russian software developer living in Montenegro. Among other problems, his I Write Like data base has only 50 authors in it.
My favorite part of the interview is when the interviewer, Katjusa Cisar, asks the kid, “What makes you qualified to analyze literature like this?”
Reply: “Nothing, really.”