Narrative Science raises $6m to replace web copywriters with computers. How long until journalism is automated?

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The internet can be characterized very simply. Billions of people are looking for interesting and useful information, and millions of companies are trying to make money by people finding their content, through search engines and increasingly on social media.

This has led to the rise of companies such as Demand Media, which last week listed on New York Stock Exchange to be valued at $1.5 billion, more than the New York Times. Demand Media and its peers such as Associated Content, now owned by Yahoo!, use low-cost writers and sophisticated algorithms to create massive amounts of content tailored to generate revenue from search traffic.

There are also many writing brokers such as TextBroker and The Content Authority that help smaller companies that need web content to improve their search rankings to get copy written, at rates as low as 1.2 cents a word.

I have written about the proliferation of crap content and how search is evolving to deal with the rise of low-quality content. The latest iteration in Google’s search algorithms explicitly address duplicate content. The quest for original content to feed the search engines continues.

The obvious next step is to automate copywriting, further improving the cost-revenue equation for those seeking to attract search traffic.

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Energy Switch

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

ENERGY SWITCH

The way we use energy will change faster than ever before in human history. Renewable energy sources, electric cars, and strict energy accounting, driven in part by carbon taxes on fossil fuels, will transform transportation and large chunks of the economy, faster than we currently imagine.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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11 themes of the Zeitgeist for 2011

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Our recently launch Map of the Decade triptych comprised three parts: the Map of the Decade, details on the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist for 2011.

I think may have been a mistake to put the Map of the Decade and Zeitgeist themes in the one document, as many only see the front page and don’t get to the Zeitgeist themes, and they come from quite different perspectives (1 year as against 10 years). As such, I’ve taken out the Zeitgeist themes here, with the image and full text below. Click on the image to download the complete pdf – go to page 3 for descriptions of the Zeitgeist themes.

Zeitgeist for 2011

Zeitgeist2011_500w.jpg

ZEITGEIST:2011

1. Networked or Not?

We are all facing a fundamental choice that will shape our lives. Many dive headlong into a world of always-on connection, open social networks, and oversharing. A few cry halt and choose to live only in the old world of tight-knit personal communication. The result is a divided society.

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Demographic Crunch

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

DEMOGRAPHIC CRUNCH

Many developed nations will start hitting the wall in their ability to support their elderly. The contrast with the rapid growth of developing nations will bring into focus the turn in economic fortunes. The inevitable result is mass migration, licit or illicit.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Culture Jamming

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

CULTURE JAMMING

Remix culture will surge, with everybody taking and jamming up slices of everything and anything to express themselves, while intellectual property law fails to keep pace. Every culture on the planet will reach everywhere – the only culture we will know is a global mashed-up emergent culture that changes by the minute.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Collective Intelligence

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

In a world of infinite information and diversity of opinion we will not drown, but harness our dormant potential to be more together than we are individually. Crowdsourcing platforms and aggregators of insight will be part of the planks that create the reality of a global brain, expressing our destiny.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Climate Clashes

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

CLIMATE CLASHES

The divide between believers and dis-believers in climate change and the necessity for action is increasing. Beyond that, views on the potential of planetary engineering will cut to the heart of the divide on faith in or fear of technology, Whatever the meteorological data that emerges, it will tear us apart.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Bio Destiny

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

BIO DESTINY

Now that biological and genomic technologies are largely driven by information technologies, they are on the same exponential trajectory. Medicines personalized to the individual, genetic modification of our children, drugs to increase intelligence, and life extension will all become commonplace.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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ExaTrend of the 2010s: Augmented Humans

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Excerpt from the list of ExaTrends of the 2010s:

AUGMENTED HUMANS

More than ever before, we can transcend our human abilities. Traditional memory aids are supplemented by augmented reality glasses or contact lenses, thought interfaces allow us to control machines, exoskeletons give us superhuman power. Machines will not take over humanity… because they will be us.

See the full 3 page framework including the Map of the Decade, full descriptions of the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist of 2011 by clicking on the image:

ExaTrends of the Decade and Zeitgeist for 2011:

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Map of the Decade, ExaTrends of the Decade, and the Zeitgeist for 2011

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It is traditional at the turn of the year to look forward at what is to come.

We have crystallized our thinking on the year ahead and the decade of the 2010s in a new 3-page visual landscape.

Note on ExaTrends: Given the exponential pace of change of today we are far beyond a world of MegaTrends. Exa is the prefix meaning 10 to the power of 18, following Mega, Giga, Tera, and Peta. As such Exa is Mega cubed.

Download the pdf of the framework by clicking on any of the images. The full text of the ExaTrends and the Zeitgeist themes is below.

Map of the Decade: 2010s

MapoftheDecade_500w.jpg

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