I have written professionally for years but, unfortunately, it looks like there’s new competition for my skills.
An article in The New York Times describes software that writes (as opposed to writing software, which typically just edits something a person wrote).
The “In Case You Wondered, a Real Human Being Wrote This Column” article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/business/computer-generated-articles-are-gaining-traction.html) describes software developed by Narrative Science, a start-up in Evanston, Illinois, which takes data and turn it into articles.
As you may know, software has done that (at least to some degree) before. What’s different here is the quality of the writing.
Here is a sample: “Wisconsin appears to be in the driver’s seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 in the third quarter. Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3….”
I don’t know about you, but that reads a lot better than many of the articles I’ve seen lately.
Steve Lohr, author of The New York Times article, explains that “the software even makes inferences based on the historical data it collects and the sequence and outcomes of past games. To generate story ‘angles,’…the software learns concepts…like ‘individual effort,’ ‘team effort,’ ‘come from behind,’ ‘back and forth,’ ‘season high,’ ‘player’s streak’ and ‘rankings for team.’ Then the software decides what element is most important for the game and it becomes the lead of the article….”
The developers predict that this software will win the Pulitzer in five years.
They may be right. Maybe I should get a copy. It could blog for me several times a day, giving me time to look for another (non-writing) job.