Tools of the trade: On auto-correct

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I daresay we’ve all had moments of frustration with auto-correct: when we mean “its” instead of “it’s” and don’t catch it till after we’ve sent a text message, when Word insists on converting an unconventional proper name to a puzzling and nonsensical noun. Or an adjective, in the case of Bill Vignola, whose name, as he once complained to Bill Gates, Word always changed to Bill Vaginal. (Microsoft promptly tasked an intern with removing vulgarities from the autocorrect dictionary.)

Still, where would we be without it? I’m not sure a hastily tapped-out text message would be any more intelligible — reverse engineering nonsensical messages isn’t always easy, after all — but our comedy would be much poorer. Wired has a great history of the technology, at any rate, which is well worth a read.

As for Mr. Vignola:

And Bill Vaginal wasn’t the only complainant: As Thorpe recalls, Goldman Sachs was mad that Word was always turning it into Goddamn Sachs.

3 thoughts on “Tools of the trade: On auto-correct

  1. Autocorrect in an email program can be problematic, particularly if it is difficult to edit the “library.”

    Autocorrect in a word processor, however, can be a great help.
    It can change common errors, such as “t” “e” “h” to “the” automatically. More, leading word processing programs allow users to edit the “auto correct library.” Thus one can be certain a client’s name will be spelled correctly every time, and abbreviations can be substituted for common words or phrases. “Agmt” can automatically become “agreement,” and “nwts” can become “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary elsewhere in this agreement.”

    With a little care and work, your word processor’s auto-correct can be transformed from an annoyance to tool that increases both speed and accuracy.

  2. Leah – I have learned to live with it. The auto-correct doesn’t get me as much as just being in a hurry and not proof reading my typing. Dumb mistakes and it would only take me seconds to reread it. Argggh…

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