Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November 16. Day 321. Future (shock!)

 I am old enough to remember when newspapers had compositors. These blokes (and they were normally blokes) actually set the lines of type. Those jobs went when desktop publishing software became a thing. More work for "skilled" labour such as journalists, we thought. A machine can't replace a creative, we thought. Wrong. Today at Associated Press we learned about the automation of the stock exchange earnings reports, little league baseball and from next year college basketball. Essentially these are now being written by robots. The result, we are told, is that instead of reports on a handful of companies all Fortune 500 companies can be reported on AND the reporters are freed from the drudgery of this mundane work. In short, the creatives can create. While they are not churning out financial feeds they get to play with augmented reality, data visualization or on demand audio. It's the same story at all the big players, we've visited. New partnerships, new technology, new ways to tell stories. Digital first is dead. Long live the mobile era. Forget the home page. People aren't coming to you through the front door, they are entering through the side gate with social sharing being the big way of discovering what's happening. But with these new opportunities come new problems such as fake news. For the people at Google, that's a big one this week after widely recirculated inaccurate stories about Donald Trump scoring a greater percentage of the total vote than Hilliary Clinton. Identifying such material in real time and removing ads is not going to be easy but the staff say they are determined to crack this nut. At least the magnificent views, free food and office scooters will make the work environment pleasant while they work on a solution.

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