written by Martin on Dec 30, 2003 Comments Off
Over the past few months, the blogging world has been fascinated by a recently-created weblog known as Belle de Jour.
Put simply, it’s supposed to be the “Diary of a London call-girl”.
The website is hosted on Blog*Spot, the free web-hosting service offered by Blogger, and the email address provided by the site owner/writer “Belle” is a Hotmail account.
Both are good methods of disguising the owner’s real identity.
The site recently won an award in the ‘Best Written’ category at The Guardian ‘Best British Weblog’ competition, despite numerous suggestions that the writer of the site may actually be male, and the whole thing could possibly be a fake or a literary exercise.
As most regulars at this site will know, I’m a skeptic at the best of times, but I’ve often found myself questioning the authenticity of the content on Belle de Jour, largely based on the general feeling I get from the projections of the writer.
I’m afraid I can’t agree with the Guardian judges that it’s “an impressive piece of writing”.
It’s mildly imaginative, sure, but I would be more impressed if the details and events being recounted on the site were, in some way, confirmable.
I suppose the ‘enigma’ element is possibly the whole point of the site; that it remains clouded in some sort of erotic mysticism.
Well, I recently tested out several paragraphs from the site at the BookBlog Gender Genie, which uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon from the Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the likely gender of a given author based on his/her text. (Read more at nature.com).
The application works best with segments of continuous text of more than 500 words in length. (Mr Fryer has already informed me that The Copydesk is male).
With every paragraph from Belle de Jour I fed the Gender Genie (selecting ‘blog entry’ as the text origin), the results returned back to me overwhelmingly indicated that the writer of the text is most probably male, more or less confirming my suspicions.
Judge for yourself – but for me, it going to take a much bigger leap from now on to accept the material as being genuine, especially when I now have more than a hint of suspicion that the writer of the text is trying to yank my lariat (in more ways than one).