Authorship recognition software from Drexel University lab to be released December [VIDEO] - Technical.ly Philly

Nov. 15, 2011 11:00 am

Authorship recognition software from Drexel University lab to be released December [VIDEO]

Two competing software tools focused on ‘authorship recognition’ from a Drexel University computer science group are scheduled to be released publicly for the first time at a conference in Berlin at the year’s end. The Drexel Privacy, Security and Automation Lab work, led by Dr. Rachel Greenstadt and PhD student Michael Brennan, began in 2009 with […]

Two competing software tools focused on ‘authorship recognition’ from a Drexel University computer science group are scheduled to be released publicly for the first time at a conference in Berlin at the year’s end.

The Drexel Privacy, Security and Automation Lab
work, led by Dr. Rachel Greenstadt and PhD student Michael Brennan, began in 2009 with research on the shortcomings of software used to uncover the identity of an individual based on writing style, like word choice and sentence structure.

“We have come a long way since then and are currently working on two tools that can be used both to recognize and to anonymize authors,” said Brennan, who organized June’s Random Hacks of Kindness and will organize another again in December. See the sidebar below for details. [Full Disclosure: Technically Philly have sponsored both events.]

Yes, at the next Chaos Communication Conference in Berlin in late December, Greenstadt and Brennan will unveil two pieces of software, each meant to outdo the other.

Random Hacks of Kindness details

Mike Brennan is organizing the second Philadelphia version of the global hackathon series.

Random Hacks of Kindness Kickoff Reception presented by Technically Philly and Independents Hall:

WHO: Hackathon attendees, activists, journalists, nonprofits and anyone else with a greater need that a technology tool could help solve.
WHERE: Indy Hall, 20 North 3rd St, Unit 201, above Market Street
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 from 6-8 p.m.
WHY: To establish problems that hackathon teams can help solve
WHAT: Conversation with beer and light refreshments
REGISTER: Free with registration here.

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Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon:

WHO: Hackers, coders, developers, designers, organized by Michael Brennan
WHERE: Drexel University, 3175 JFK Blvd, University City
WHEN: Sat. Dec. 3 @ 9 a.m. to Sun. Dec. 4 @ 4 p.m.
WHY: To create software solutions to global human challenges
REGISTER: Free with registration here.

“One is called JStylo and the other is Anonymouth. JStylo is a tool that allows individuals to run authorship recognition tools on documents for either research or discovery purposes,” said Brennan. “Anonymouth helps people modify their writing style by running samples of writing against many example texts and many different methods and suggests changes that can make their writing style less distinctive.”

PhD student Ariel Stolerman is the lead developer of JStylo, which is both a stand-alone tool and the backend for Anonymouth, which is being led by undergraduate researcher Andrew McDonald. Find all the research papers on the project here.

Does this research concern public safety officials who might want to be able to track the efforts of anonymous online users?

“We haven’t received pushback from law enforcement on it. I don’t suspect that we will, but you never know,” Brennan said. “Anonymous communication tools have been just as essential for law enforcement as they have been in thwarting law enforcement.”

Brennan has addressed before this research at the Chaos Conference, another celebrated event from the group that welcomed a discussion this summer on OpenDataPhilly.org. Watch below video of Brennan discussing his research in the past.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a Cofounder, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. In that capacity, he is a co-organizer of Philly Tech Week, Baltimore Innovation Week, Delaware Innovation Week and other events that bring smart people together. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here and curates a personal monthly newsletter of ideas and links here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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