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Social Media Bloggers vs Semantic Techoggers - Man vs The Machine

Who needs to pay bloggers anymore, when semantic algorithms can accomplish the same task with quicker results and with more thorough research? As quickly as bloggers surfaced with the evolution of the Web 2.0, the semantic technology content of the emerging Web 3.0 era is beginning to emerge to take its place. Transforming minefields of data into high-quality editorial, at scale, and without human authoring or editing is ready to revolutionize the future of publishing.

Narrative Science is the latest firm to implement Web 3.0 applications to create narrative content that can be culled from any existing data, be it numbers or text, structured or unstructured.


While starting out in the sports field, the company has been working with the Big Ten Network, a joint venture between the collegiate athletic conference and Fox Cable. BTN required baseball and softball coverage for its Web site, so last spring so after their games, all scorekeepers had to do was email the stats to NS, which they in turn fed into a computer - whereby a sports story was produced, in a matter of minutes.

Today, the serviceMan or Machine?Man or Machine? can render stories using crime stats, medical study results, surveys, financial announcements or any other data-intensive subject matter. Their Web site promotes other markets, including finance, real estate, community updates and unique one-of-a-kind web content from just about any other vertical market.

The semantic technology used by NS has the ability to identify trends and angles within large data sources and then turn them into compelling copy. Similar to the Q & A site Quora that builds upon a simple question and then has users drill down to its most salient components - using automation instead of humans - NS can build upon stories over time, providing deeper context around particular subject matter.

Blogging? Even a monkey can do it!Blogging? Even a monkey can do it!Started as a joint research project at Northwestern University Schools of Engineering and Journalism under the code name "Stats Monkey," founder Stuart Frankel and Kris Hammond generated their first automated story that described a Northwestern Wildcats baseball game.

Back in April, 2010 Justin Bachman in his Bloomberg Businessweek report listed the following three stories to see if his readers could detect which ones were produced by Narrative Science's software versus humans.

Pick the automated narrative?Pick the automated narrative?
In case, you could't guess, the correct answer was (b), where there was no human author or editor involved.

So back to the question; Do you stop paying your bloggers today and enlist the services of Narrative Science to produce copy for your new sites, blogs, press releases and surveys? 

Well, according to Bachman, when he asked Frankel as to how much he charged clients for his services, the CEO declined to answer. In my humble opinion, in looking at ushering in the new era of Web 3.0 - while in some respects it might make our work lives easier and more expedient - I'm thinking a Semantic Techogger is most likely going to come with a hefty price tag. While I've reached out to Frankel and Hammond to find out just how much those fees will amount to - up until the time of this posting, I received no comment. So, I guess, for now, I'm safe in keeping my day job!

For other stories on semantic technology and its relationship to the publishing space, please see some of my previous posts.