Will Dean’s Ideas Factory: How does a robotic copy editor cope with Ulysses? – Features – Gadgets & Tech – The Independent
As the newspaper industry works out how to tackle the threat from free online news and other structural problems, some journalists can at least take heart that, no matter, what the medium – newsprint, the web, or electronic paper – a good copy editor is an essential role. As it is in publishing and advertising/copy-writing, too. When the robots are making our coffee and vacuuming our floors, at least they won’t be criticising us for our use of cliches… Oh. Hang on a minute…
Pro Writing Aid is the creation of Chris Banks, a London-based programmer. It allows writers to insert their copy and uses algorithms to pick out redundancies, cliches, overused words, unvaried sentence lengths and other errors which relate to neither spelling or grammar.
I put the technology to the test by entering a feature I wrote for these pages last week on 3D printing. The analysis came back with a plethora of suggestions, including four “overused words”, a couple of redundancies (“component parts”, tssk) and a massive 16 issues of “vague or abstract words”. Alright, Sir Harry Evans-robot, I get it. Though some of the points were fair enough, others still need a bit of human nuance. One of my red-marked phrases was “kind of” which might be weak for a novel but was part of a vital quote from one of the people I spoke to.