TNW Quick Hit
Phras.in will take two phrases of your choice, run them through a search and tell you which one is more popular.
Loved: The crowd knows best. Interesting way to avoid being cliche. More writing tools? Yes please.
Hated: Sometimes the crowd doesn’t know best. Thesaurus suggestions would be great.
I’ll often times run into situations where I know what I want to say, but don’t especially know how to say it. When you’re writing for an International blog, it’s sometimes difficult to bear in mind that phrases have different (or no) meanings outside of your own country. Phras.in is hoping to help solve that problem using a hive mind method.
In the email that I received from Francesco Benetti, the developer of Phras.in, he explains it like this:
Comparing the web popularity of a sentence might be really helpful for proofreaders or people who write in English as a second language trying to determine which phrase is the best fit for the context.
While I can agree to his idea, I actually prefer to use Phras.in in the exact opposite. It’s far too easy to say the same things time and again when writing blog posts, and Phras.in can help me to find out which way of speaking is less used so that I don’t get the “broken record” effect. .
Immediately after you type your phrase, the site will spit back the number of returned queries for it. Then, once you’ve chosen your phrases you can choose the “Contextualize ’em” button to show side by side columns of search results. This is, obviously, more in tune with how Benetti would see the application used. The results are, honestly, not very helpful from what I saw, but I could certainly see use for someone who was speaking English as a second language.
Phras.in is lightweight, running in the cloud and using jQuery. Results are lightning fast and the site sticks to the beautifully simple method. These are all things I liked a lot. What’s missing, however, is some depth.
I’d love to see Phras.in integrated with some sort of thesaurus where your “in context” results could be given alternatives. Though there are a number of thesaurus applications out there, this would be an interesting “value-added” twist to what Phras.in is offering.
However, even standing alone, Phras.in is worth a look. The next time that you’re stumped, or while you’re leaving a comment below, give it a shot and let us know what you think.