Are writers about to become obsolete?

by Carl Natale on April 30, 2010

There is a kind of scary story in BusinessWeek about a computer program that writes sports stories. Feed the scores and stats into it and it will spit out a story.

Not a great story but a story nonetheless.

Does this mean I’m in danger of becoming extinct? I don’t think so.

It’s all pretty boilerplate stuff. And I really don’t want to do that kind of work – filling in the spaces between numbers.

The real value is in analysis. Why did Iowa fall behind? Can Michigan repeat?

I listen to a lot of sports talk during the week. There’s a lot very smart people on the radio explaining the games and the people. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t get in an app.

There’s a real demand for that kind of writing – explaining what people don’t understand. Yes you can program this thing to write a story about the financial data coming out of Wall Street. But if financial issues confuse you, you won’t understand it.

Try listening to NPR’s Planet Money. They may give you the numbers but will explain why the numbers are important. It’s a style that makes complicated subjects easier to understand.

This is fine for Little League and press releases. But if you want to understand why the score is the score, ask a human.

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