News generated by computers
A new blog is up, "Just to Clarify," by Kris Hammond - and I'd recommend you read it occasionally. Hammond is the chief technology officer of Narrative Science, which is focused on turning data into computer-generated narratives.
Much of its work is based on research coming out of Northwestern University.
His newest post has the provocative title: Why 90% of news will be computer generated in 15 years.
Hammond's thesis breaks down to four (he says three, but I broke out No. 3 here) points:
- More and more data is being generated natively in all sorts of areas (business, government,sports, etc.) and it is becoming more accessible
- New techniques are also allowing computers to take text that previously required human mediation and interpretation and turn it into data
- Integrating the first two, with some human guidance, will produce richer and more relevant stories
- As news organizations increasingly have to rely on aggregating revenue streams from numerous niches, instead of a mass audience, doing so without the aid of computers doing some of the writing would be economically infeasible.
As he puts it: "A computer can write highly localized crime reports, personalized stock portfolio reporting, high school and youth sports stories at scale to provide coverage that was previously impossible and could never be possible in a world of purely human generated content."
Not to mention the fifth point - publishers looking for ever-cheaper ways of doing things.
See also Hammond's earlier, thought-provoking post: "The end of destination sites." That ought to give you a snoot full to think about for the rest of the day.