"the better Autocorrect gets, the more we will come to rely on it"
August 5, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe


 
Best read in an Andy Rooney voice.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:52 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


So turn it off.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Though proclaiming a message and giving information about algorithms, these are redeeming social value. The real purpose of the article is to entertain with amusing autocorrection examples.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:55 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Auto Correct is kind of annoying at times, but also hilarious. More importantly, I want to know why the Firefox spellchecker doesn't know "kanji" and suggest "ganja" instead. What are they up to?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:58 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter:Better than hanging around the house rating bisexuals.
posted by 445supermag at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


moist peephole have already frog cotton how to spiel.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:04 AM on August 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


Autocorrect works fine for me most of the rind.
posted by snofoam at 8:07 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe this explains 50 Shades of Grey?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:09 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have similar problems with Siri which I use on the rare occasion when I need to text someone a message but am driving a car. "Text Jim that I got the van" becomes "Text Jim that I got the band" It introduces a nice subtle WTF aspect that our relationship is sometimes missing. Autocorrect, yeah I turn it off though i enjoy both the idea of "dictionary as liability" as mentioned in this article but also "realtime dictionary as indicator of the sentiments of the humans who are creating it and trying to keep it accurate and also relevant" questions that have troubled librarians since the beginning of time. Once Google asked me "Did you mean flickr?" when I was trying to find photos of birds, I knew it was the end times for what we'd previously known as authority control. In good ways and bad.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Best read in an Andy Rooney voice.

Because Andy Rooney is well known for citing sources, discussing algorithms, and ultimately being TOTALLY OK with some sort of change? I really don't think this is a cranky-crank CHANGE BAD essay.

Also, The Information is an amazing book.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:25 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this an iPhone thing? I never have these issues with my phone.
posted by dobbs at 8:27 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


My ex has the craziest autocorrect issues with his not-iPhone. So I guess it's universal. On computers, it seems to me that microsoft programs are worse than all alternatives, when it comes to autocorrect, but I haven't tested it. (I use several different UIs and programs, not on any side of any conflict).
posted by mumimor at 8:41 AM on August 5, 2012


I really don't think this is a cranky-crank CHANGE BAD essay.

Better lighting.

As noted above, the "impish god" advancing our "unintelligence", causing us to be "collectively peeved", and playing a "cosmic joke" on us can be defeated by a 5 second visit to the Preferences screen.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:00 AM on August 5, 2012


Thistle lend whale.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:35 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't stand autocorrect anywhere involving actual writing. It's inoffensive and occasionally useful in Google searches, but when I'm typing up professional email it actually costs me time.
posted by doctornemo at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2012


Metafilter: Hanging around the house rating bisexuals.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:29 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because I am a retrogrouch and control freak, I turn auto-correct off on just about everything that I use. If I'm going to have typos and misspellings in my writing, they'd better at least be my typos and misspellings. It's easier and faster for me to just type things out than it is for me to type things out while also trying to figure out whether some algorithm is going to second-guess me or not. I have seriously yet to encounter an autocorrect algorithm that either speeds my typing or increases my accuracy -- however almost every one I've dealt with drives me straight up the wall in minutes.

I will make some suggestion to realtime spellcheckers that just highlight things they think are wrong with those little wavy red lines, though. I have some words that I serially misspell ("embarrassing", "necessary", "yield"...) and it's nice to get a reminder that I fucked it up again so that I can go back and fix it. But Jesus jumping Christ don't just get in there and change what I'm writing! My vocabulary is bigger than most spell-checking dictionaries anyway (or at least I use a lot of words that they don't think are words) and so for a lot of words, an autocorrecter is just going to screw me up every damn time.
posted by Scientist at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also I feel like the newer algorithms that compare your writing not to a dictionary but to an evolving corpus of commonly-used words have a sort of insidious homogenizing influence on language, creating a sort of race to the bottom. Maybe I just don't write like most people, you know? Maybe I don't want to sound like a YouTube commenter when I'm sending text messages or writing e-mails or whatever, and maybe (looking at you here, Google) I have a good goddamn reason for putting a slightly-mangled word into a search box, or exclusing the adverbial form of my search terms or whatever.

Sometimes I feel like all this electronic hand-holding just drags us all down to the same level of stupidity and encourages people not to even try because the results are going to be equally mangled whether the input comes in the form of beautifully-written prose or barely-coherent mumblings. I must seriously be getting old.
posted by Scientist at 10:53 AM on August 5, 2012


My favourite bit of accidental (?) Autocorrect genius to date was once when I was responding to a grocery shopping request from my wife with a sarcastic "Jawohl!" (a pedantic German "yessir!") and my iPhone changed it to "Hadith" (a word or act in accordance with the Koran).

I still don't know if there's some ancient linguistic link or a really smartassed coder to blame/credit for that.
posted by gompa at 11:01 AM on August 5, 2012


In the middle of a text argument, my girlfriend's iPhone once autocorrected "Jeez" and turned into "Jewish." Not only did it diffuse the situation, but I've been anti-semitic ever since.
posted by phaedon at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spelling: use it or lose it.

That James Gleick? Maybe he was talking about warble gloaming, and we can blame the whole misunderstanding on autocorrect.
posted by sneebler at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2012


We will know the end times are upon us when the default settings cause autocorrect to start changing "you are" to "ur"
posted by caution live frogs at 12:09 PM on August 5, 2012


I love autocorrect. it turns boring texts into a Derrida experience.
posted by dejah420 at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does no one seem to realize that if you capitalize a word, say a name, on the iPhone, it doesn't try to correct it the same way? So typing Tycho or Portman on my iPad gets me no complaints or attempts to correct. Word, of course, is famous for not knowing anything is a name, but isnt aggressive about silent substitution.
posted by Brainy at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2012


I second the love for Gleick's The Information. it's really well written, and I felt like I had painlessly learned so much by the time i finished it.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2012


Is this an iPhone thing? I never have these issues with my phone.

Yes. I switched from a Droid X to an iPhone 4S a few weeks ago, and the one thing I miss is SwiftKey.
posted by The World Famous at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2012


I fink what the need is a glamour checker, knot a mechnical spill chalker.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:53 PM on August 5, 2012


I fink what the need is a glamour checker, knot a mechnical spill chalker.

I see you've installed the Die Antwoord autocorrect plug-in.
posted by The World Famous at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Benny Andajetz: "Maybe this explains 50 Shades of Grey?"

Did you mean 50 Turds of Hay?
posted by Splunge at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2012


I hate autocorrect because it overcorrects, but if you turn it off I swear my phone- out of spite- will suddenly be far, far worse at detecting what letters I'm hitting. I assume it's because the part of the autocorrect software that attempts to figure out exactly which tiny letter you were hitting with your thumb is bundled with the same software that attempts to fix the word entirely- turn off the latter, and you lose the former. In many texts, I spend a good portion of time having to go back, try to center the cursor on some word, and fix what autocorrect broke!

I'm with Scientist on this: autocorrect is great for words like "embarassing" because obviously, I just missed the 'r' and you're keeping the word mostly the same; autocorrect/spellcheck is fine for common, well-known mistakes. Autocorrect/spellcheck should really be about fixing those simple slip-ups, but still leaving the "real" writer exposed- even if that might be "embarrassing" to them for making spelling mistakes or grammar choices so poor, even the computer couldn't figure out what the hell they meant.

But they really need better rules about when/how they correct (or make them granular in the settings). For example, don't completely change a word altogether as if I was that bad at hitting the letters I was aiming for- assume I didn't miss more than one or two letters tops- and don't assume that when I typed a 5 letter word and hit 'space' that I really meant for you to autocomplete a 12 letter word that I typed only once, 8 months ago. If I hit 5 letters, maybe I'm mistyping a 4 letter word or a 6 letter word, or a common misspelling... but I didn't forget to hit several letters! And most importantly, if you autocorrect a word and I start deleting your autocorrect- don't keep autocorrecting it! That should be a hint to the software that I clearly do mean to do something different than what you think, so stop getting in my way.

Anyway, that's my complaint with autocorrect, and it makes me really sad. Liek dis if u cry evry time.
posted by hincandenza at 1:07 PM on August 5, 2012


oh man, the default typing entry on Android has the weirdest spell check. it'll save entries if you select the misspelled word in the list it presents. but the length of time it saved them is almost random. I constantly lose things like hmm, but its saved thiughtseize* for months now and constantly presents it when I want 'though'. I'm sure there's options I'm missing though.

*misspelled thoughtseize the magic card, and its haunting me since
posted by AngelWuff at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2012


ooh, one more. my favorite one has been waking up to the message "fire hydra is as cake demon ultra shower" from my friend. turns out he was trying swype and trying to be too fast. totally forgot what the original message was, but its become our new favorite cryptic response to things. I usually call em spell wreckers these days.
posted by AngelWuff at 1:20 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a good speller, but a clumsy typist. I have autocorrect enabled on my work email, so I don't have to worry about finger coordination, and instead of constantly backspacing I can get back to innovating solutions or whatever it is I do all day.

Tahnsk, autocorrect! I mean, tHnaks! Well, you know what I mean.

(And hooray for email signatures, because I mistype my own name more often than anyone with ten functioning fingers should.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2012


Does anybody else's Android do this thing where when you try to do a hyphenation, it moves the cursor back a space? So that if I try to type, say, "apple-cart" it'll push the cursor back before the hyphen and I end up typing "applecart-"? It's incredibly annoying because whenever I want to use a hyphen I have to type "hyphen-nextletter-foreward-foreward-delete-backward-hyphen-foreward" to get everything where it is supposed to be. It only seems to happen when I'm using my phone's physical keyboard rather than the onscreen keyboard (it's faster, thank-you-very-much, hyphens notwithstanding) and it doesn't matter whether autocorrect is on or off.
posted by Scientist at 1:35 PM on August 5, 2012


Autocorrect constantly changes "wih" (my mistyping of "with" because I don't hit the T squarely enough on my touchscreen phone) to "wig." I NEVER, EVER, EVER MEAN WIG.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter:Better than hanging around the house rating bisexuals.

I'm confused - I thought this is the autocorrect thread, but apparently it is about okcupid ennui.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still trying to get my google tablet's voice recognition to hear "falafel". "phone waffle" may be its funniest wrong guess.
posted by jepler at 2:36 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


My current best is when a German colleague texted me to say he'd brought up a dying server. I replied "Wunderbar!" except that it rendered as "Underpants!"
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


With features like this, who needs bugs?

Obnoxious autocorrection (as well as formatting) is just one of the many reasons why I prefer a plain text editor for serious writing. Two of my favorite cross-platform alternatives: emacs and Sublime Text. Sublime Text is the more user-friendly of the two, and I'd recommend it to anybody looking for a minimalistic writing/coding experience. It even features a WriteRoom-esque "Distraction Free Mode"
posted by jlh at 5:16 PM on August 5, 2012


The web editor apparently autocorrected the article: the headline says 'Auto-crrect ths' and the URL for the article says 'Auto-correct-this.' Clearly, someone didn't get the memo.
posted by librarylis at 7:17 PM on August 5, 2012


I hate autocorrect because it overcorrects, but if you turn it off I swear my phone- out of spite- will suddenly be far, far worse at detecting what letters I'm hitting. I assume it's because the part of the autocorrect software that attempts to figure out exactly which tiny letter you were hitting with your thumb is bundled with the same software that attempts to fix the word entirely

Doesn't it seem slightly more likely that it's really that autocorrect is only noticeable when it fails, even though most of the time it doesn't fail? So when you disable it you actually do have to hit the correct button every time; when it's turned on you can mistype quite a lot and never notice because it's corrected for you.

My biggest problem with (iPhone) autocorrect was training myself to not immediately go for the backspace key every time I saw a typo: if I just ignore it and keep banging away at buttons in the general vicinity of the letters I want then 99 times out of a hundred the typo goes away by itself, and I can type ten times faster -- even including the time it takes to go back and fix the few cases autocorrect gets wrong -- because I don't have to precisely target buttons that are a quarter the size of my thumb tips.

On a real keyboard, sure, autocorrect is unnecessary and evil. For thumb typing I think it's brilliant.

Or maybe it's just that I have enormous thumbs.
posted by ook at 8:38 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> For thumb typing I think it's brilliant.

a brilliant semi-recovery from a really dumb initial idea.
posted by jfuller at 5:28 AM on August 6, 2012


What's the dumb initial idea, making phones small enough to fit in a pocket?

Or do you mean touchscreen typing? I know I'm just one guy with enormous thumbs, but personally I have just as much trouble accurately hitting teeny tiny physical buttons as I do teeny tiny onscreen buttons.
posted by ook at 1:48 PM on August 6, 2012


LanguageLog: Noisily channeling Claude Shannon
The "noisy channel model" does have its roots in work done at AT&T Bell Laboratories, but Claude Shannon did that work in the 1940s, not the 1990s.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:41 PM on August 6, 2012


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