Grammar On The iPad

Grammar. It’s cool. And now it’s high tech, with a new iPad app. Terminology for iPad offers that “special something” for your writing just in time for the start of the school year. The app contains a searchable dictionary and thesaurus. They can be used off-line, in case you can’t hook into the ‘net for your word fix. But, if you do have Web access, you can find additional information on your desired word or phrase via Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Mark your favorite words for fast future searching. Best of all, the interface is simple and clean, making your lexicographically-inclined pursuits that much easier. Tighten up your next brief, business report, email or term paper, or simply pull out a killer word out for Scrabble or Words with Friends with Terminology.

Beyond Spell Check: Phras.In

Let’s face it. Even the most editorially-inclined among us has come to rely on the spellchecker as a second set of eyes to minimize spelling gaffs and basic punctuation issues. But maybe your writing issues are deeper than spelling and spacing. For you, there is Phras.In (link here). This web-based, beta tool will take alternative versions of a phrase, run them both through a Google search and compare the results. The phrasing that yields the most hits wins.

Phras.In is built on the assumption that the crowd rules the day. This, of course, is not necessarily true when it comes to proper English grammar and usage. However, it is certainly true of colloqial phrasings or commonly-accepted wordings. Thus, as indicated on the site, Phras.In’s best use might be for someone who speaks English as a second language and who wants to adopt a more natural, native tone.

So, how does it work? You are given two boxes in which to type your alternative phrasings. As you type them, the number of Google hits for the phrases are displayed to the right. The phrase “the cow jumped over the moon” received 48,300 hits, while the phrase “the moon was jumped over by the cow” got a whopping 27 hits, primarily from sites explaining the perils of the passive voice. I knew this because I hit the “contextualize” button, which reveals a few lines from the website surrounding the desired phrase.

Phras.In worked fast and well for general purpose comparison. If nothing else, it saves you the time and effort of crafting your own Google search and reviewing all of the page results. Well done, Francesco!

Granular Social Networking Stats

Maybe I should have said tabular, but still, this free report from Experian Simmons, entitled the 2010 Social Networking Report contains lots of data on recent increases in social media usage, confirming suspicions that social media networking is indeed on the steep rise. The entire report can be downloaded after filling out some basic information or you can view it online (link here). I thought it worthwhile to quote the follownig two paragraphs from the introduction to give a flavor for the findings:

The 2010 Social Networking Report provides the hard data behind this consumer revolution, including the fact that fully 66% of online Americans use social networking sites today, up from just 20% in 2007. Social networking is an increasingly addictive activity, with nearly half of those who access such sites (43%) reporting that they visit them multiple times per day. While users of social networking sites may have initially signed up to better keep in touch with friends, a growing number say they now use sites like Facebook to connect with family members. An astounding 70% of social networkers keep in touch with family via their various online networks, up from 61% a year ago.

Fully two-thirds of all online adults today have visited a social networking site in the last 30 days, up from 53% in 2008 and 20% in 2007. Social networks have most thoroughly penetrated the young adult market, as nearly 9-in-10 online 18-to 34-year-olds visit such sites today. But even older Americans are tapping into social networks, with 41% of online adults age 50 and older making monthly visits to sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.