Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Editing

As it happens, I got sidetracked on the 'net, poking around in a site called Literature-Map, at http://www.literature-map.com/. This addictive little site lets you enter an author's name, then, after clicking on the Search button, you get a screen full of authors that sort of float around, firefly-like, until they come to a stop. The names of the authors closest to your author you entered are the ones that, supposedly, other readers read.

For example, I entered H. P. Lovecraft, one of my favorites to read around Halloween. It returned as Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and once the other authors stopped bobbing about, two of the closest were Clive Barker and Jonathan Swift. I've not read either of those, and I should at some point, but my other Halloween author is Edgar Allan Poe, who was a little further from Mr. Lovecraft than either Lewis Carroll or Ayn Rand.

Mr. Poe and Ray Bradbury were about equidistant from H. P., so I decided to give Mr. Bradbury a spin on the Wheel-O-Literature. I now had Mark Twain, C. S. Lewis, and Lewis Carroll hovering like moths around Mr. Bradbury. Mr. Poe and George Carlin were about the same distance away from Ray, with Carl Sagan a little closer then Edgar or George.

I'm always curious about software like this that predicts what I'm supposed to like, and as a former developer I have to wonder how they designed it, and how they verified its accuracy. Especially when after I entered Jules Verne, I got Herbert George Wells fairly close to Mr. Verne, but H G Wells was a little further away. H. G. must be a distant cousin, of Herbert George, I suppose.

Keep writing, friends.

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