Good old reliable Watson, game-show and chess wiz, and recently reported as helping out in the kitchen, is now coming to the rescue of all those tone-deaf writers. Just run your memo through this little app and see how it scores on Clearness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.


It’s a small and halting first step perhaps. You may think it a bit naïve. After all who’d think “in due time” was a reasonable synonym for “soon” — but that’s not really the point. Like the dog walking on his hind legs: it’s that he does it at all, not that he does it well. The analysis behind this little gif makes one think of what else can be achieved. I like its prospects not so much for the writers, but for the readers. You can perhaps see the beginnings of critical reading by computers in this sort of thing. Sure it’ll need to be better: but as we know about computer development, better is one of the things it will get.

There’s a testbed at the IBM site. Just paste your text into a box, click the button and presto, it’s done. I just analyzed the preceding paragraph and am proud to report that it scores 86 for Openness, 48 for Conscientiousness, 41 for Agreeableness, 13 for Analytical, 6 for Tentative (must stop saying perhaps), 5 for Cheerfulness, 3 for Confident, and 1 each for Negative and Anger. It’s hard to make out where the Anger resides: I think it may be in the word critical — which hints at an IBM attitude towards critical reading — it’s not all bad guys! Overall I score 3% for Emotional Tone, 85% for Social Tone, and 10% for Writing Tone. (Got to be some rounding up/down going on.) I guess that’s sort of what I would be aming for, if I was aiming.

Thanks to The Digital Reader for the link.