Pen-names have just become obsolete.

So I just read this article over at the Popular Science website about how software written to identify authorship has been used to determine that a novel written by Robert Galbraith was actually the work of J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author. Read the article real quick; I’ll wait for you.

First of all, I’m not sure that its very polite to conduct an experiment on unwilling participants. Did that reporter from The Times even bother to consider that Rowling might have penned that book under an assumed name for a reason? Maybe she wanted a readership untainted by Harry Potter fandom, or maybe she doesn’t want her work to be typecast. So shame on you, British reporters. You’re always sticking your noses where they don’t belong!

That being said, do we want to live in a world where authorship can be sussed out by the intelligent algorithms of digital heuristic hound dogs? Granted, the programmer admits that he can’t prove authorship and its more of a correlation-based deductive method; however, that’s just where it begins, right? Now we get to improve on this software until one day you won’t be able to tag a restroom wall without getting caught. Not that that’s the kind of thing I would do, but it seems that we’re not long from an age where anything and everything can be traced back to its origin, and the ones most interested outside of the humanities fields do not have our best interests in mind. I’m talking about the government, the CIA, the NSA, private investigators, not to mention slick criminals and petty crooks.

What do you think, is this type of technology a step toward living in the shadow of Big Brother himself? Or do you see it differently? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Privacy is dead my friend. They can identify painters by their strokes, writers by their cadence and Google everything else. This is a huge bummer by the way, it used to be authors did this as a way to step out of their comfort zone to attempt something new (one example – Ann Rice’s Taming of Sleeping Beauty Trilogy).

    Now it has become obsolete – which is a shame because I particularly like the idea of pen names. Actually, when I was a kid I fantasized about what it would be. Oh well – computers 1 humans 0.

Feel free to share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s