Need a quick rewrite? Take a ride on the Spinbot!

By Alexander Jackson

Nuance is powerful. It keeps your readers’ feelings and your text’s meaning aligned, which is good because meaning is a delicate creature. Unless you write only for yourself, fitting words are paramount. Should you trust a robot with something as delicate as nuance?

If you need to find a better word, you reach for the thesaurus. If you need to write a better article, do you reach for a thesaurus? Now you can reach for a robot.

Spinbot is an article spinner, software that automatically re-writes text, like an artificially intelligent thesaurus. It’s not the first of its kind either. Article spinners used to be back-alley SEO tools that produced positively unreadable text to disguise duplicate content from search engines. Now, it’s harder to distinguish between articles written by sloppy humans or clever spinners.

Why would you need to alter a large chunk of text? Maybe your editor wants you to re-write the second half of that article on Lithuanian dog breeders. Maybe you didn’t write the text and you need to disguise it from plagiarism detection software.

An overhaul of your language usually comes at the request of some external source. And sometimes, rather than murder your darlings, you waste time in valiant efforts to salvage the last two hours of your life.

Enter Spinbot, free software that saves those two hours!

But on the other hand…

An automated thesaurus might create more problems than it solves. Consider the nuance it might leave out. Consider the horror of inadvertent ambiguity. Consider the faux pas that robots might commit—especially if we don’t know whether or not they’re racist. Consider the children! I ran this paragraph through Spinbot to see what it would spit out. It produced this brilliant result and completely botched a few things. Check it out:

A robotized thesaurus may make a greater number of issues than it understands however. Consider the subtlety it may forget. Think about the loathsomeness of unintentional equivocalness. Consider the violation of social norms that robots may confer—particularly on the off chance that we don’t know regardless of whether they’re supremacist. Think about the youngsters! I ran this section through Spinbot to perceive what it would release. It created this splendid outcome and completely messed up a couple of things. Look at it.

A robot cannot forget a subtlety it never knew, which is clear from how Spinbot changed “more problems than it solves” to more “issues than it understands.” The phrase “loathsomeness of unintentional equivocalness” is itself unequivocally loathsome.

But how do I use this thing anyway?

Consider how you might use Spinbot. Like any tool, it would require care and skill to produce anything other than nonsense and self-destructive SEO boosts. Does it save time? Only if it’s faster than using a real thesaurus. That’s unlikely as long as you still have to proofread the results.

People use a thesaurus to search for the nuance that best conveys an idea, and nuance gives us two things: clarity and beauty. Each requires the careful selection and placement of words. Ungainly words shoved into awkward places not only create confusion. They’re ugly too.

Nuance is powerful. It keeps your readers’ feelings and your text’s meaning aligned, which is good because meaning is a delicate creature. Unless you write only for yourself, fitting words are paramount. Should you trust a robot with something as delicate as nuance?

Take a break from writing to play spin the bottle with Spinbot. It might give you some ideas, but more importantly, it will remind you that robots are at least several years out from becoming tyrannical overlords.

“Think about the youngsters!”

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