When will robots start writing all the copy for us? (Image via Mirko Tobias Schaefer).
Yesterday I spoke at the Smart Content Conference. In one of the morning talks, Jeff Fried of BA-Insight emphasized the point that analytics, semantics, and machine learning are powerful technologies, but not perfect technologies. As such, he advises that business innovators should be realistic about their capabilities.
Over the course of the day, there was much talk about the interaction of these technologies with social information, and about how these tools could be used to help people (such as content creators and call center reps) to fulfill their responsibilities more efficiently. At the end of my presentation on semantics and publishing (based largely on the Nimble report) someone asked, among other things, which analytic or semantic tools could serve to automate the creation of ongoing stories.
My answer: this is not a task that can be 100% automated. To be fair, she may not have meant 100%, but I wanted to reinforce this point. There are tools that can help – semantic media monitoring tools for research and tracking, machine-assisted tagging tools for more thorough metadata, and many others – but these are still just tools. For optimal results, they should still be wielded by a person.
In fact, by the end of the day-long conference, I had started thinking about how to combine the content creation efforts of machines, experts, and crowds to benefit from the strengths and overcome the limitations of each. Maybe it will be the topic of one of my future conference presentations.