MitchellF wrote:Today's book is "Author Unkown: On the Trail of Anonymous" by Don Foster. Really a fascinating topic. Foster 'found' a lost Shakespeare poem by using textual analysis to prove that the word usage and syntax matched Shakespeare's writing and no one else's. He later unmasked Joe Klein as the author of 'Primary Colors', which was authored anonymously.
To me it seems intuitively obvious that one person's writing style marks them like a fingerprint, but apparently this is a terribly controversial notion. Especially as the rules of grammar become more lax and we all grow up using different spelling and grammatical conventions I would assume that, given a large enough sample, the author of any piece could be identified by their unique writing voice. My confidence in this ability may acutally stem in part from reading message boards. Once I have read enough posts by a person I can often identify their work without having to look at who posted it.
I also find this topic interesting. In general, there could be three different questions:
1. Who wrote this (book, article, etc.)?
2. Did John Smith write this (book, article, etc.)?
3. What are different web sites where John Smith posts and what aliases he uses at each site?
The first question is difficult and depends on the universe of potential writers.
The second question is probably the easiest given a large enough writing sample.
The third question may be the most difficult.
Thank you for the reference,