Quakebot, Narrative Science and the Evolution of Robo-Journalism
Slate's Future Tense blog has a story about how the LA Times was able to publish the first news report about Monday’s earthquake in Los Angeles thanks to Quakebot, an algorithm written by LA Times journo-programmer Ken Schwenke that automatically transforms USGS data into story form…and, sadly, does not look like the robot hunched over a laptop in the Shutterstock photo above.
Kudos to Slate's Will Oremus for not fomenting the kind of robots-are-putting-journalists-out-of-work hysteria that tends to arise when companies like Narrative Science and StatSheet come up. “If anything,” writes Oremus, “helpers like Quakebot might save a few journalists’ jobs by freeing them to focus on the type of work that can only be done by a local reporter, on the ground, with a brain.”
Narrative Science CTO and Cofounder Kris Hammond gave an awesome presentation — and used nearly every inch of the stage! — at the 2013 Paley International Council Summit: The Data Overthrow. Here’s the video: