August 22nd, 2003

breaking bad

gender genie

archbishopmmentions the gender genie, which purports to predict your sex from a sample of your text. This is based on some research:

Female writers use more pronouns (I, you, she, their, myself), say the program's developers. Males prefer words that identify or determine nouns (a, the, that) and words that quantify them (one, two, more).

Anyway, I fed it in a sample of my novel-in-progress which is written in the first person, but supposedly from a male p.o.v., and it thought it was written by a man. This could have been a tribute to my success in getting into character: However, I look at the success rate, which is no better than chance. Also, someone in my office fed in a paragraph from 'Wuthering Heights' and it thought that was written by a man. Of course that is a multi-layered novel with a male narrator reporting a story told to him by a female servant.

My verdict - the boring 'literature' samples which the researchers utilised in testing the algorithm are more conventional in their use of gendered language than real people are. Emily Bronte was not a conventional writer. No surprises there.
breaking bad

more from janssen and faber

I recently read new books by authors I read on holiday.

The Summer Book by Tove Janssen
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Here is an interview with Michel Faber about Crimson Petal, where he says he used techniques that I very much like: structure and cinematography

It's so architectural. Everything is balanced and schematized and everything at the beginning is tied up at the end and all the events at the start are mirror images of things that happen at the end... It's deliberately very cinematic.

reviews

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