Sunday, July 25, 2010

In the company of great writers... a Droid blog experiment

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

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

Maybe I do write like Vonnegut, maybe I don't. But the first paragraph I used to test this promotional text-analysis site -- which produced the result above -- actually came from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Warning: Geeky section begins here, but I get back to "writers" after next horizontal rule.

This blog item began as an experiment in posting a code snippet online using Blogaway, a Blogger editor on my Droid phone, to see if that attractive "I write like..." box would appear the way the promoters intended.

The bad news: The Droid blog editor converted the HTML tags of the badge's "code for your blog" widget into their encoded-character equivalents, which disabled the code. That is, it created new code to put the symbols like < and > on screen instead of interpreting them as part of the behind-the-scenes HTML code. Instead of the "I write like Kurt..." box, you got something that looked like the garble on the right.

I also wasn't able to edit the code in the"Edit HTML" window of the regular Web interface to Blogger using the Droid's browser, small screen and pull-out keyboard.

The good news: Once I got back to the Mac the fix was a simple copy-and-paste operation.

Bottom line: You'd think a phone using Google's Android operating system would have an elegant and powerful built-in app for editing blog posts in Google's Blogger system. If it does, I haven't found it.

To be fair, Blogaway does seem fine for more conventional posts, but I don't think I'll try it with code again soon. It'll take a while for the eyestrain to wear off after this first attempt.

Here's more information on the program for other Droid users:

Back to the "I write like..." writing-analysis page... For more background on the page, see this interview with Dmitry Chestnykh. Rocket science or not, it's fun to play with. If I give the text of any page I've written about the Web, with URLs and computer jargon, including the page you're reading, it says I write like Cory Doctorow. I tried again with a few paragraphs from my home page that talked about teaching and my coming to Radford, and I was back to being Vonnegut. When I pasted in a short paragraph about newspapers (which appears under my grandmother's picture on, this was the text:

That's probably a Sunday Boston paper or Springfield Union. The past week's Daily Hampshire Gazettes are stacked on the radiator in this photo taken by my father. I started delivering the Gazette in junior high school and still remember columns by Arthur Hoppe making me laugh--the first byline that ever stuck with me.

and this was the report:

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

Now that makes me feel old. I wonder what did that? Maybe those old New England places and newspaper names kicked the analysis into "Last of the Mohicans" mode? Anyhow, it's nice to see some variety in the reports. I grabbed a New York Times story about the Supreme Court's conservative shift (by Adam Liptak), and said it sounded like Stephen King. Just scary, I guess.

Final test: I went over to and grabbed a few paragraphs of Cory Doctorow's blog.

It says he writes like Ben Franklin.

No it doesn't. I made that up. You can't always get things to come out as ironically as you want. It said he writes like Cory Doctorow. Except when he writes like Kurt Vonnegut.