Reading between the lines

The BBC News Website carries an interesting article on text message analysis. This technique is becoming a new, powerful tool for solving crime cases. It’s already been used to help secure a murder conviction this year, by showing that text messages sent from the victim’s phone were similar in style to the accused person.

This forensic work focuses on the stylistic features of messages, such as the choice of personal pronouns. Experts such as Dr. Tim Grant, from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, are building and analysing specialised language databases from thousands of text messages. As he puts it “You have show expertise over and above that of the average jury member – we’re all language experts”.

It seems inevitable that, in the not too distant future, we’ll be able to fingerprint people, analyse their personality, detect changes in mood and tell whether they are lying from their messages. Whether you like it or not, Big Brother is coming your way.