It is a truism that the modern man (or woman) on the web has more potential megaphones than any of his ancestors. It has never been easier to broadcast your opinions to the masses, whether the masses are interested or not.
While no one would deny that this democracy of the internet is one of the great gifts of the modern era, some do quibble with how this freedom is being used. Indeed, your author is still baffled by the proliferation of cats, adorable and otherwise, in these virtual hallways. Others are more concerned about how we are taking advantage of the internet as a channel of communication. Entrepreneur John Simkins is one such concerned internet resident.
“I suppose it boils down to the fact that we have been blessed by two man-made miracles,” explains John, “the internet and the English language. My problem was that we seemed unable to make the most of both simultaneously.”
Indeed this is a very sensitive topic for John, what he refers to as the “bastardisation of the English language”. “I mean it’s ridiculous, what does it all mean?” he exclaims. “I thought this might be the golden era for English prose, but instead we’ve been reduced to a parade of acronyms, selfies, hashtags and emoticons!”
It was this degeneration that inspired John to start Grammer, a social-network for language-lovers. The concept was inspired by Twitter, where there is a maximum number of characters per message. In Grammer, the length is unlimited, with the only requirement being that the message must be written in perfectly composed English.
While the number of subscribers is still in the growth phase, the concept has a fanatical fan-base. Librarian Jen Howland is a super-user. “I used to be on Twitter, but then it all became too much for me. I was just seeing red mist the whole time, so many dangling prepositions! Grammer is like heaven for me.”
The concept is simple. Upon submitting a message, Grammer’s algorithms go to work, informing you whether your message is fit for online consumption, and how to update it if not, from your to you’re to theirs to there and beyond. Meanwhile, the underlying open-source programme is constantly being updated by a volunteer community of Definers. “I can’t speak highly enough of our Definers,” says John, “they’re the lifeblood of our operation. They’ve even started catching mis-placed gerunds, which is really tricky stuff.”
The project is already attracting significant interest from Venture Capitalists, “though they’re only welcome if they know how to capitalise appropriately,” jokes John. “I think we’re on to a really interesting thing here. Some people call us Grammar Nazis, but we’re a pretty irreverent bunch. The name of the App is even mis-spelled, intentionally! We might love grammar, but we still know how to have a good time.”