CIA Spellchecker 2015 - 2016.
Java application, OpenOffice extension, files for use with existing Firefox plug-in
Any rules about language, be they grammar rules or style rules, have the potential to be ideologically significant — perhaps even more so in a world where spellcheckers and autocorrectors supply these rules automatically and as fact. This is painfully obvious in the CIA’s Style Manual & Writer’s Guide. Released online in 2014, the document is a fascinating look at how that most secretive of government agencies approaches language, skewing authority and history in the process (see the screenshots for some real gems).
A modified version of LanguageTool’s fully-functional open source grammar and spell-checking program, CIA Spellchecker applies the eighth edition of the Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications to daily communication. I’ve created versions to use stand-alone, with a text editor (OpenOffice), and with a web browser (Firefox). So go ahead, and proofread like a spy… or not. The idea is to become more aware of subtle changes in language and style and to guard against more hidden forms of censorship and linguistic bias.
CIA Spellchecker was heavily influenced by two artists whose software projects reveal hidden information of political and environmental significance: Michael Mandiberg (Real Costs) and Allison Burtch (Internet Illuminator).
In 2016, text from "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges was run through CIA Spellchecker and included in "My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days," an online exhibition curated through AC Institute. That project is archived here.
Troubleshooting: Having trouble? Make sure you read the installation instructions. Please also see the LanguageTool checklist or email me for assistance.
Credits: All of the software was made using LanguageTool. I have simply created new grammar rules, added words to the English spelling dictionary, and swapped out some logos.
Documentation: Please see the documentation on my Github page.