Tech & Work

Blowing smoke at document-enhancing software

As a news editor, there are days when finding the right words are more difficult than others. Well, now there's a new Web site that can help you express yourself. Check out this news story: "Start-up wants to enhance your adjectives."

WhiteSmoke, a Tel Aviv-based start-up company, "has come out with a service that aims to enhance the style and grammar of business letters, e-mails, and other documents. Consumers write a document, send it to the company, and the company, through a computer program, sends back suggestions for stronger adjectives, improved grammar, and style points, depending on the document being written."

"WhiteSmoke's software looks to improve documents in two ways. First, it runs a grammar and spell check, trying to find things missed by the standard tools found in e-mail and word processing applications. Second, it tries to achieve 'text enrichment.' The enrichment and grammar check are determined by the nature of the document . There are four modules: legal, medical, commercial, and literary. Thus, software will provide different adjectives for 'spleen' when the consumer wants to beef up medical article, versus when 'spleen' is used metaphorically in a literary piece."

Did I mention that this company is in Tel Aviv, Israel? TechRepublic has used some copyediting services in the past that were based outside of the United States, and there were mixed results in terms of quality. According to the story, "Initially, the company targeted individuals who spoke English as a second or adopted language, but it turns out that 85 percent of the customers are native English speakers who want writing help." With all of the acronyms and new words that are continually added to the English lexicon, I think this software would fall short in several areas. Technology jargon alone would require an entirely separate module.

Thanks, WhiteSmoke, but I think I'll stick with my spellchecker and thesaurus.com.

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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