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Spellcheck – Friend or Foe?

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
When you spend as much time writing as I do, you are bound to make your mistakes here and there, but I’m a real stickler for correct orthography. Spelling errors make any document look unpolished and unprofessional, and beyond this, Google has patent applications filed that seem to indicate that spelling can influence how a document ranks.
When I was little girl, I was chosen to represent my elementary school in a city-wide spelling bee after winning the school’s in-house bee. I didn’t out-spell the whole city, but I do believe I made it into the top five. I don’t remember the word I missed, but I’m betting it was one of the nemesis words I’ve carried with me into adulthood.
Everyone has these nemesis words. Some of mine are occurred, therefore, accurate, and publicly. My brain goes into a kind of fever when I go to type these words and I am seized by doubts that they may be spelled occured, therefor, acurate and publically. My studies of foreign and obsolete languages have only further complicated this issue for me in life, and I have convinced myself repeatedly that strange, antique spellings of things are, in fact, correct.
And, so, I turn to Spellcheck. Most folks do. No doubt this is rooted in our deep fear of being laughed at for committing some mortifying error in print, for all to see. Unfortunately, if you don’t keep a weather eye on the spelling tool, it could result in an astounding creation like the following:
After writing a bog post about Goggle’s SERPs on Barrack Baa, I decided too run Spell check to bee sure I’d spelled words like Flicker, Dig and Bill Slaw ski write.
This line is, obviously, supposed to read:
After writing a blog post about Google’s SERPs on Barack Obama, I decided to run Spellcheck to be sure I’d spelled words like Flickr, Digg and Bill Slawski right.
Apart from not picking up on the fact that I’m using the wrong spellings of ‘to’, ‘be’, and ‘right’, this example shows us that Spellcheck is behind the times. It doesn’t know what a blog is. It doesn’t even know what Google is. And, it refuses to acknowledge that presidential candidate Barack Obama exists. What does this teach us? That Spellcheck was created by Republicans!
No, seriously. What does this teach us? I believe this teaches us that electronic tools are not to the point where they can replace actual human learning. Beyond the fact that we are constantly inventing new words for behaviours and products (I got Dugg, I use Flickr), the subtler nuances of language bewilder a basic tool that is only looking to see whether a word exists, rather than whether it is being used correctly.
I have to say, I’m glad. While I appreciate and benefit from ‘smarter’ machines and applications, it’s still more important to me to live in a world of smart humans. Learning to dot your i’s and cross your t’s remains an accomplishment that will stand you in good stead through life whether you’re tapping out blog posts, writing great web copy for your business, or sending an e-mail note to Mom.