July 15th, 2010

cap, captain miss america

My Father Writes Like Me

Some (likely) closing words on the “I Write Like” Meme (apartment photos and general life updates still to come). I just wanted to address some of the key questions I saw raised repeatedly today as the conversation got very large and I wasn’t able to reply to everyone individually.

1) It appears that several new authors were added to the “I Write Like” meme. Confirmed: Margaret Mitchell, Mary Shelley, Stephenie Meyer, Ursula LeGuin, Agatha Christie, David Foster Wallace.

I have not seen or heard anything about any authors of color being added. Which is, as [info]nojojojo said, making it worse, because at this point he’s knowingly being exclusionary, especially since I’ve seen multiple people suggest authors of color to him directly.

2) I have heard multiple reports that he is no longer approving comments from people who question this issue on his blog. However, he said that he will take suggestions with the hashtag #iwlvote on twitter, and he can’t really do anything about people who comment to @iwritelike on twitter.

3) Many people brought up questions about the original included list. Dmitry said to me yesterday in a private email that the list was gleaned from two sources: top bestsellers listed on Wikipedia, and the top downloads list on Project Gutenberg. While those lists are obviously skewed toward white men to begin with, there were female authors and authors of color on both lists who never appeared to be in the meme, which means that there was some editorial choice on his part about which authors on those lists to include– and which to exclude.

4) This is the first time I’ve posted a post of this nature since I started blogging more seriously off-livejournal. It’s interesting to note that while the vast majority of people who responded to this post on livejournal commented in agreement with the concerns I raised, and the people who didn’t approached the subject with honest questions, the majority of (far fewer) comments on my personal blog at Antagonia.net were criticizing my post, and not in a thoughtful or friendly manner, either. It was interesting to me to see the difference.

5) I just wanted to share the email my father sent to the meme’s creator after reading my blog. My father is a middle-aged white man, just in case anyone is curious.

My friends and I were excited to see this enjoyable “game”. However, it became clear that even though your idea is really good , your execution is lacking.

If you want to really provide something more “professional” you simply
should consider:

1. Including more writers
2. Including different ethnic and religious backgrounds. After all, writers style are very much influenced by their surroundings and period beliefs. This is a real reason why their are differing styles
3. Consider other constructive suggestions you have received and better yourself and your product.

Dmitry, inclusion is a key element of success; exclusion is a road to
narrow minded failure.

Good luck and thank you again for your efforts.


Of course, when a man wrote to him, Dmitry wrote back saying “thanks for your suggestions!” Although I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that that might be a result of critical mass at this point.

I hope that answers everybody I didn’t get around to replying to. Thanks for your comments and especially for passing on this discussion to others– I think a lot of people only saw one or two results from the meme and didn’t quite realize what was going on with it.

I am still disappointed that this thing is getting national news coverage, though. It’s sort of inspiring me to put some effort in to re-building my meme library once I move. We need a new OTP generator. That doesn’t exclude anybody on any basis apart from “Tea thinks that’s too hard to draw.”

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.