11.28.10

Human Beings : Surplus To Requirements For The Modern Sports Section

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, Technical Difficulties, The Internet at 11:50 pm by

(former Mets skipper Davey Johnson, graciously submitting to an interview with an aspiring sportswriter)

A few years from now, might we look back on, say, The Bleacher Report, and feel nostalgic for the site’s brand of insightful analysis?  Not bloody likely, but that’s the first thing that came to mind when reading of StatSheet’s “Robot Army” and the Durham, NC firm’s plans to provide college basketball content entirely composed by a computer.  From the New York Times’ Randall Stross :

StatSheet’s software is imbued with the smarts to flatter each particular team. The same statistics, documenting the same game, produce an entirely different write-up and headline at the opposing team™s page.

A team like No. 1-ranked Duke ” whose StatSheet Network Web site is at BlueDevilDaily.com ” does not lack for attention from human sports writers. But StatSheet expects that the sports programs of smaller schools will appreciate the advent of robot journalism.

œThere are at least 200 Division I schools that the large sports media companies give no attention to, says Mr. Allen at StatSheet. œOnce we have the algorithm in place, there™s no cost to adding the Lamars and Elons to the Dukes and U.N.C.™s.

Small schools are less likely to have large alumni bases and to draw significant traffic, Mr. Allen said, so he is knocking on their doors to explore licensing partnerships.

Mr. Allen explains that his story-writing software does not perform linguistic analysis; it just uses template sentences and a database of phrases that numbers about 5,000 for now.

œMy goal was that 80 percent of readers wouldn™t question that the content was written by a human, he says, œand now that we™ve launched, I think the percentage is higher.

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