Saturday, January 06, 2007

Godalming Traben-Trarbach Attalla : Readers of LawPundit

Here is a tech trivia teaser:

What do the towns of Godalming in the UK, Traben-Trarbach in Germany, and Attalla, Alabama in the USA have in common from the standpoint of technological history?

Thomas Alva Edison invented the first commercially viable electric light bulb in 1879 (see incandescent light bulb for the full history of light bulbs).

One of the first practical applications that changed the world was electric street lighting. Godalming in the UK, Traben-Trarbach in Germany and Attalla, Alabama in America were the first towns in those three industrialized nations to install electric street lighting.

Godalming came to world attention in 1881, when it became the first town in the United Kingdom to install a public supply of electricity, and the first in the world to boast electric street lighting, driven by a Siemens AC Alternator and dynamo at Westbrook watermill, feeding seven arc lights and 34 Swan incandescant lights. These lights were later turned off as their supply proved too expensive for the town."

Traben-Trarbach, where we live in Germany, was the first town in Germany to have electric street lighting, based upon the patents of Thomas Alva Edison, which Emil Rathenau bought from Edison, leading to the founding of the German-based AEG.

As for Attalla,
"The first hydro electric plant for lighting a whole town was invented on a stream in Etowah County near Attalla by W. P. Lay in 1887. This invention in Attalla led to the creation of the Southern Company and Alabama Power."

Website and Blog Readability Tests Online

Website and blog readability tests are found online at these internet locations:

Juicy Studio - Readability Test Online
ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability
Lingua::EN::Fathom Perl CGI
Online Readability Software
Leicht Lesbar ? (German language)

and they will give you DIFFERING RESULTS.

We got into this whole subject initially via a readability link placed by Kinja at our Kinja Card for LawPundit which intrigued us and subsequently took us to Juicy Studio, whose mission "is to promote best practice for web developers in a fast moving industry".

Juicy Studio offers an online readability test for websites which is potentially useful for analyzing written material on the internet.

The JuicyStudio Readability Test analyzes websites and blogs from the standpoint of three reading level algorithms:

1) the Gunning Fog Index,
2) Flesch Reading Ease, and
3) the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
(see e.g. the analysis of the Inaugural Addresses of US Presidents),

all of which determine how readable some particular written content online may be.

We emphasize the phrase "potentially useful" above for the Juicy Studio readability test because it has one major limitation deriving from the fact that it aggregates all written material on a website in its results scenario. As written at the Juicy Studio readability page:

"This service analyses the readability of all rendered content. Unfortunately, this will include navigation items, and other short items of content that do not make up the part of the page that is intended to be the subject of the readability test."

In other words, all words on the web page are counted, including all website and blogroll links (often single words) and other formatting material (titles, headings, etc.) . This skews the results considerably downward (in terms of the appropriate reading level of the audience) for many online pages, making it appear as if the writer uses many more "one word sentences" than he actually does.

There are thus only two ways to really test the readability of online writing:

1) make a simple ".txt" file of the text on a website or a blog posting, or
2) use a readability text analyzer as that found on ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability, which only analyzes inserted text and not actual website texts

As for option 1) above:

make a simple ".txt" file of the text on a website or a blog posting, removing the headings, titles, separate numbers, quotations by others, etc. and then upload that .txt file as a separate, independent page to the server. Then plug the appropriate URL into the JuicyStudio Readability Test.

To illustrate how this is done, we have done that with the following page at LawPundit
http://www.lawpundit.com/blog/2006/09/psychoanalysis-socratic-education.htm
and we have then put it online, reducing it to a pure text (except for incomplete sentences followed by a quote) at
http://www.lawpundit.com/readability1.txt

The Readability Test then of course looks entirely different for what is essentially the same material.

As a pure website, the results are:

Gunning Fog Index 11.44
Flesch Reading Ease 48.12
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 7.83

When the website is actually cleared of links and formatting text,
to give pure text, the results for the pure text at the Juicy Studio - Readability Test Online gives the following result for http://www.lawpundit.com/readability1.txt:

Gunning Fog Index: 17.00
Flesch Reading Ease: 38.76
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 12.00

Note that results over 17 are reported as 17
whereas results over 12 are reported as 12.

As for option 2) above:

The readability test at ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability gives the following result for the same identical text as above:

Gunning Fog Index: 25
Flesch Reading Ease: 26
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 16

The readability test at Lingua::EN::Fathom Perl CGI gives the following result for the same identical text as above:

Gunning Fog Index: 19.01
Flesch Reading Ease: 31.64
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 15.71

Online Readability Software in its Analysis Report gave us the following results:

Number of words analyzed: 545
Readability: 4 % more difficult to read than the average writing on the Internet, which means:
Writing greater than 30% easier to read than the Internet is ideal.
Writing between 10-30% would be considered for high school graduate or higher.
Writing less than 10% easier than the Internet generally is meant for college graduates or higher.
Writing that is more difficult to read than the Internet should be avoided regardless of audience.

Leicht Lesbar ? is a German-language site with the following results:
Unsere Analyse hat ergeben:
Ihr Text besteht aus 26 Sätzen mit 723 Wörtern, wovon 323 verschiedene. Sie haben total 1233 Silben benutzt (Endsilben auf -e zählen nicht).
Das ergibt einen Flesch-Wert von 34.

Even Microsoft Word provides us with readability statistics, indeed, for this text as follows:

Flesch Reading Ease 27.7
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 12.0

Not to forget the Gender Genie, which rates our text as follows in terms of gender:
Words: 723
Female Score: 455
Male Score: 1177

Here is the text used:

"There are advantages, disadvantages and pitfalls both in the exercise of judgment as well as in the exercise of intuition. Socratic education - in our view - is one method to make students aware of the complexities of thought and to inculcate the ability (viz. habit) to engage in critical thinking in analyzing evidence and in formulating proofs. What interests us particularly is Bateman's discussion of judgment and intuition, the former - in his definition - involving what we know or think to know in an appeal to shared knowledge and the latter - in his definition - involving the subjective expression of how things look or feel to us as individuals. To see a graphic of Muller-Lyer lines, see the Epistemology of Perception at The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In other words, to employ a phrase used by Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), if the paradigms (viz. "mechanical" proofs) underlying a given view of "shared knowledge" are wrong, then that knowledge is likely also wrong. What this means is that someone along the way has done an intuitive "hand proof" which does not conform to the judgmental mechanical proofs in vogue. A hand proof made by a skilled prover is thus always at the root of progress, in any field. Another example of "hand proofs" is the method by which our legal system relies upon the opinions of judges, rather than on computer-produced verdicts applying fixed mechanical theorems. Here, "skilled" provers are viewed as superior to a computer theorem. As concerns the progress of science (and law), Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions is thus in our view more accurate than Karl Popper's ideas concerning scientific thought as the falsifiability of mainstream statements because "hand proofs" - also in fields other than mathematics - are generally made to conform to the observations at hand, often initially ignoring completely any presumed attempt to "falsify" existing mainstream ideas. In law, precedents may in fact have to be overturned, but that is not the main purpose of an opinion which overrules prior judicial decisionmaking. Rather, new rules are being made to conform to new observations and events. Only after an observation-fitting hand proof is made and then compared with the mechanical proofs in vogue does the battle with the inertia of existing paradigms begin. Mainstream scientists want the ensuing discussion to proceed under their terms and thus demand that their theories be proven false. This, however, does not accurately describe the process of scientific discovery, nor does it describe the primary motivation for overturning precedents in law - and this constitutes Popper's main error in analysis. Popper, by concentrating on mainstream science, does not actually describe the actual process of scientific (or legal) advance - rather, he describes the process of mainstream resistance to advance and the inefficient mechanisms by which that resistance is or can be broken. The true pioneers in science (or law), on the other hand, and this is where Kuhn's analysis is the more accurate, have no interest to waste their time on developing proofs to falsify the erroneous theories in vogue, but rather, prefer to be busy building up their own systems which correspond to the evidence at hand. The falsification process of the erroneous prevailing theories is then later carried out by others, i.e. the innovators and early adopters of new theories. Good examples here are the "hand proof" works of Isaac Newton, which presented new interpretations of observed phenomena and spent as little time as possible wasting time in disproving the erroneous ideas of others. Another example of new paradigms and hand proofs is the Constitution of the United States, which is a "new discovery" that concentrates on new things to be achieved, rather than on old things to be "disproven". This in fact is still the genius of America, several hundred years later. America is a "Kuhnian" world of new paradigms and "hand proofs", whereas the Old World (Europe, Middle East) is in part still caught in a maelstrom of Popperian inertia of resistance to change, functioning by antiquated and long outdated mechanical solutions (unreformed social systems, entrenched social classes, overemphasis on tradition, no longer state-of-the-art customs, deference to nobility at the cost of modern social innovation, etc.) As the "hand proof" says, "go for it". That's the American way which is sorely lacking in the Old World."

Website and Blog Readability Tests Online

Website and blog readability tests are found online at these internet locations:

Juicy Studio - Readability Test Online
ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability
Lingua::EN::Fathom Perl CGI
Online Readability Software
Leicht Lesbar ? (German language)

and they will give you DIFFERING RESULTS.

We got into this whole subject initially via a readability link placed by Kinja at our Kinja Card for LawPundit which intrigued us and subsequently took us to Juicy Studio, whose mission "is to promote best practice for web developers in a fast moving industry".

Juicy Studio offers an online readability test for websites which is potentially useful for analyzing written material on the internet.

The JuicyStudio Readability Test analyzes websites and blogs from the standpoint of three reading level algorithms:

1) the Gunning Fog Index,
2) Flesch Reading Ease, and
3) the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
(see e.g. the analysis of the Inaugural Addresses of US Presidents),

all of which determine how readable some particular written content online may be.

We emphasize the phrase "potentially useful" above for the Juicy Studio readability test because it has one major limitation deriving from the fact that it aggregates all written material on a website in its results scenario. As written at the Juicy Studio readability page:

"This service analyses the readability of all rendered content. Unfortunately, this will include navigation items, and other short items of content that do not make up the part of the page that is intended to be the subject of the readability test."

In other words, all words on the web page are counted, including all website and blogroll links (often single words) and other formatting material (titles, headings, etc.) . This skews the results considerably downward (in terms of the appropriate reading level of the audience) for many online pages, making it appear as if the writer uses many more "one word sentences" than he actually does.

There are thus only two ways to really test the readability of online writing:

1) make a simple ".txt" file of the text on a website or a blog posting, or
2) use a readability text analyzer as that found on ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability, which only analyzes inserted text and not actual website texts

As for option 1) above:

make a simple ".txt" file of the text on a website or a blog posting, removing the headings, titles, separate numbers, quotations by others, etc. and then upload that .txt file as a separate, independent page to the server. Then plug the appropriate URL into the JuicyStudio Readability Test.

To illustrate how this is done, we have done that with the following page at LawPundit
http://www.lawpundit.com/blog/2006/09/psychoanalysis-socratic-education.htm
and we have then put it online, reducing it to a pure text (except for incomplete sentences followed by a quote) at
http://www.lawpundit.com/readability1.txt

The Readability Test then of course looks entirely different for what is essentially the same material.

As a pure website, the results are:

Gunning Fog Index 11.44
Flesch Reading Ease 48.12
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 7.83

When the website is actually cleared of links and formatting text,
to give pure text, the results for the pure text at the Juicy Studio - Readability Test Online gives the following result for http://www.lawpundit.com/readability1.txt:

Gunning Fog Index: 17.00
Flesch Reading Ease: 38.76
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 12.00

Note that results over 17 are reported as 17
whereas results over 12 are reported as 12.

As for option 2) above:

The readability test at ILoveJackDaniels - Check Text Readability gives the following result for the same identical text as above:

Gunning Fog Index: 25
Flesch Reading Ease: 26
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 16

The readability test at Lingua::EN::Fathom Perl CGI gives the following result for the same identical text as above:

Gunning Fog Index: 19.01
Flesch Reading Ease: 31.64
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 15.71

Online Readability Software in its Analysis Report gave us the following results:

Number of words analyzed: 545
Readability: 4 % more difficult to read than the average writing on the Internet, which means:
Writing greater than 30% easier to read than the Internet is ideal.
Writing between 10-30% would be considered for high school graduate or higher.
Writing less than 10% easier than the Internet generally is meant for college graduates or higher.
Writing that is more difficult to read than the Internet should be avoided regardless of audience.

Leicht Lesbar ? is a German-language site with the following results:
Unsere Analyse hat ergeben:
Ihr Text besteht aus 26 Sätzen mit 723 Wörtern, wovon 323 verschiedene. Sie haben total 1233 Silben benutzt (Endsilben auf -e zählen nicht).
Das ergibt einen Flesch-Wert von 34.

Even Microsoft Word provides us with readability statistics, indeed, for this text as follows:

Flesch Reading Ease 27.7
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 12.0

Not to forget the Gender Genie, which rates our text as follows in terms of gender:
Words: 723
Female Score: 455
Male Score: 1177

Here is the text used:

"There are advantages, disadvantages and pitfalls both in the exercise of judgment as well as in the exercise of intuition. Socratic education - in our view - is one method to make students aware of the complexities of thought and to inculcate the ability (viz. habit) to engage in critical thinking in analyzing evidence and in formulating proofs. What interests us particularly is Bateman's discussion of judgment and intuition, the former - in his definition - involving what we know or think to know in an appeal to shared knowledge and the latter - in his definition - involving the subjective expression of how things look or feel to us as individuals. To see a graphic of Muller-Lyer lines, see the Epistemology of Perception at The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In other words, to employ a phrase used by Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), if the paradigms (viz. "mechanical" proofs) underlying a given view of "shared knowledge" are wrong, then that knowledge is likely also wrong. What this means is that someone along the way has done an intuitive "hand proof" which does not conform to the judgmental mechanical proofs in vogue. A hand proof made by a skilled prover is thus always at the root of progress, in any field. Another example of "hand proofs" is the method by which our legal system relies upon the opinions of judges, rather than on computer-produced verdicts applying fixed mechanical theorems. Here, "skilled" provers are viewed as superior to a computer theorem. As concerns the progress of science (and law), Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions is thus in our view more accurate than Karl Popper's ideas concerning scientific thought as the falsifiability of mainstream statements because "hand proofs" - also in fields other than mathematics - are generally made to conform to the observations at hand, often initially ignoring completely any presumed attempt to "falsify" existing mainstream ideas. In law, precedents may in fact have to be overturned, but that is not the main purpose of an opinion which overrules prior judicial decisionmaking. Rather, new rules are being made to conform to new observations and events. Only after an observation-fitting hand proof is made and then compared with the mechanical proofs in vogue does the battle with the inertia of existing paradigms begin. Mainstream scientists want the ensuing discussion to proceed under their terms and thus demand that their theories be proven false. This, however, does not accurately describe the process of scientific discovery, nor does it describe the primary motivation for overturning precedents in law - and this constitutes Popper's main error in analysis. Popper, by concentrating on mainstream science, does not actually describe the actual process of scientific (or legal) advance - rather, he describes the process of mainstream resistance to advance and the inefficient mechanisms by which that resistance is or can be broken. The true pioneers in science (or law), on the other hand, and this is where Kuhn's analysis is the more accurate, have no interest to waste their time on developing proofs to falsify the erroneous theories in vogue, but rather, prefer to be busy building up their own systems which correspond to the evidence at hand. The falsification process of the erroneous prevailing theories is then later carried out by others, i.e. the innovators and early adopters of new theories. Good examples here are the "hand proof" works of Isaac Newton, which presented new interpretations of observed phenomena and spent as little time as possible wasting time in disproving the erroneous ideas of others. Another example of new paradigms and hand proofs is the Constitution of the United States, which is a "new discovery" that concentrates on new things to be achieved, rather than on old things to be "disproven". This in fact is still the genius of America, several hundred years later. America is a "Kuhnian" world of new paradigms and "hand proofs", whereas the Old World (Europe, Middle East) is in part still caught in a maelstrom of Popperian inertia of resistance to change, functioning by antiquated and long outdated mechanical solutions (unreformed social systems, entrenched social classes, overemphasis on tradition, no longer state-of-the-art customs, deference to nobility at the cost of modern social innovation, etc.) As the "hand proof" says, "go for it". That's the American way which is sorely lacking in the Old World."

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