Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

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First they came for the typesetters

What's the difference between the Google News page and the front page of any other Web site? That layout of top stories with related links and lesser stories down the side is produced without human intervention. As the man at Slate says, when you automate my job, you go too far! Thinking back, this is exactly the work I hated at AOL so having the weighting of stories and linking of headlines automated would have been my dream, leaving me to either write more or get on with the redesign meetings (oh wait...). This is fabulous aggregation of editorial decision as well as of stories; this way it's free of any commercial bias because the numbers sampled will even it out. Finally, a customised newspaper; if only it let me select categories of interest for my very own version.

Will it put writers out of business? Nope. Maybe sub-editors and production Web editors and CMS systems will feel a breath on the back of their neck; mainly first generation CMS which was too unionised (won't work with your software! nyah!) and prone to working to rule (my rules! my regular expressions!). Smart aggregation is the new kid on the block but the wares it peddles are still the handcrafted words that tell the story in the headline and tease you in with the first line. Sub-editors polish the words, production editors make the site work or get to do something more fun. Leave the grunt work to the grunting algorithms and let the writing shine!

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