On Thursday evening, I published a post in my tymshft blog about Narrative Science, a company that is capable of "writing" news articles based upon data that is input.
After I wrote my post, I kept on reading, and ran across this April 2010 article from BusinessWeek. Ignore the provocative title for the moment (my answer to the question is "yes"), and consider this nugget buried in the article.
[Narrative Science partner Kristian] Hammond says the company is starting with athletics because only about 1% of U.S. sporting events are covered by reporters.
Take a moment and think about the ramifications of this.
We often think that we are drowning in all the news that we get from TV and from radio and from our feeds and from everywhere else - but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of things that are NOT covered.
Take my two recent posts about Mark R. Walter. This is a guy who is the Chief Executive Officer of Guggenheim Capital, LLC - and we hardly know anything about him. (Of course, I'll grant that to learn more about him, a real journalist will have to knock on his door and get an interview.)
I'll cite another example. I can't talk about many of the proposals which I write. Why not? Because the customer RFPs often have clauses that prevent the winning bidder from discussing the win without customer approval. Yet it's certainly newsworthy - well, at least to a few of us - when MorphoTrak has a winning proposal, or when another company does. But it's hard to find that information.
Now Mark Walter and the various biometric vendors have reasons for not publicizing this news. But I'm sure that there are many organizations that would love to have news articles written about them. And perhaps they publish their minutes on the web, where some data aggregator could grab them and put them in a readable format. But they don't.
I'll throw out one other example, and this one's personal so bear with me. For the last several years, last.fm and I have been compiling a list of the tracks to which I have been listening. Now perhaps this is not newsworthy (how many times did John listen to that song in a row?), but perhaps it could be formed into a story. Tweekly.fm tries to do this:
My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Orion Rigel Dommisse (57), Zero 7 (46) & Client (32)
But imagine if some type of software could make this into a story:
John Bredehoft listened to the Orion Rigel Dommisse song "Skinwalkers" over 50 times last week, but also took the time to listen to some old favorites from Zero 7 and Client.
Now imagine if my last.fm data were combined with other data:
After hearing the Orion Rigel Dommisse song "Skinwalkers" on last.fm, John Bredehoft bought the song from Amazon and listened to it another fifty times.
Pete Charvat, who lived with Bredehoft in college in 1981, reported, "Yeah, the guy likes to listen to songs over and over."
Some would argue that such articles are not "newsworthy." But they'd be newsworthy to some people, wouldn't they?
And if you could have a service that could take raw data and produce articles of interest to you, wouldn't it be worth it?
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