Saturday, April 05, 2014

OpenStack 04/05/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: reporter-bots

    • We already knew that bots were writing news content, automating narrative stories from data-rich topics like sports scores and financial markets. Now, robo-reporters are starting to get scoops. They're not just writing stories; they're breaking them.

      Thomas Steiner, a Google engineer in Germany, designed an algorithm that covers the news as it's breaking by monitoring activity on Wikipedia (old school journalists everywhere are wincing) and watching for spikes in editing activity.

      The idea is that if something big is happening—especially if it’s a global event—multiple editors around the world will be updating Wikipedia and Wikidata pages at once, in different languages. That spike in activity tips off the bot to the story. According to Steiner, his news bot spotted major stories like the Boston Marathon bombing and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370.

    • The bare-bones site tracking real-time editing is called Wikipedia Live Monitor. It was first created last year, and now Steiner's has extended his robo-news operation to Twitter. The bot mines the social media site for a particular search term triggered by the Wikipedia activity and pulls out all relevant photos to illustrate the story.
    • You can check out the visual news events on the Twitter bot account @mediagalleries. The earliest are from a case study Steiner did to test out the program during the Olympics in Sochi. More recently, there are galleries illustrating major sports events, and the latest updates to flight MH370 and the conflict in Crimea.
    • You can see, it's still a rudimentary process, hardly about to put the staff of the New York Times out of business. But it says a lot about the direction automating the news is heading in.
    • Still, the Fourth Estate is one of the more disconcerting industries being taken over by robots, and not just because it’s my own livelihood. And it’s more common than you think; Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, a company that's been automating content for several years now, predicted that 90 percent of the news could be written by computers by 2030.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

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