PJ Vogt is on Twitter here. If you'd like to subscribe to TLDR's short weekly podcast, please go here.
An App Promises to Help You Write Like Hemingway
Friday, February 14, 2014 - 01:02 PM
Hemingway is a new app that invites you to submit your writing into a text box where it'll be graded based on it's Hemingway-esqueness.
Both Language Log and The New Yorker tried throwing Ernest Hemingway's writing at the app, and in both cases, naturally, he was rated as being not sufficiently Hemingway-esque. The Language Log in particular tried to untangle the algorithm by which the Hemingway app determines readability, and it seems to be a set of silly/reductive rules.
Yech. This is the sort of thing that invites you to feel generational fatigue. If every generation gets the Hemingway it deserves, our grandparents got Ernest, our parents got Mariel, and all we got was this half-baked app.
In a way it sort of ties back to that mitten map from earlier this week. They're both examples of ideas whose value lies more in the concept than in the execution (No one will use Hemingway to write like Hemingway, nor is anyone likely to find their lost mitten on the mitten map). The difference with the Hemingway app is that I can't really see why the world needs it, even if it did work. It's an internet gag gift - a shareable headline that can't quite go to the trouble of pretending to be a tool humans might use.