The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

This is what happens when a bot writes an article about journalism

(AFP Photo/ Gerard Julien)
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Web journalists, the end is near: No longer does the Internet need our aggregations or our think pieces or our hastily penned “hot takes.” Instead, some enterprising soul has invented a content-generating algorithm as tireless and eternal as the Internet’s thirst for new material. It’s likely planning to permanently dethrone us.

In fact, “Content, Forever” is its name.

The bot, by the artist and programmer Darius Kazemi — you might recognize him from projects like @TwoHeadlines and Random Shopper — essentially functions like an automated, high-speed version of the so-called Wikipedia race: that “easy,” “fun” and frequently frustrating online sport wherein players try to navigate from a given Wikipedia page to a second, unrelated one by clicking on links. Kazemi’s algorithm copies text from the Wikipedia page for the topic you give it — “tomato” or “baseball,” for instance — then grabs a link to another Wikipedia page, heads to that page, and starts over.

The result is a meandering and only semicoherent collection of tangentially related facts. Or, in Internet vernacular, content.

Kazemi has been thinking about the project for a little while, he said by e-mail — it was inspired in part by the 1970s documentary series “Connections” and some work he’d been doing for NaNoGenMo, the bot-maker’s equivalent of National Novel Writing Month. But the whole thing only came together when he decided to style his algorithm’s musings like posts on Medium, the polarizing blog platform that churns out journalistic gems and reams of self-important blabbering — in not so equal measure.

“I was talking about this with friends a few weeks ago: There are so many poorly written pieces on Medium, and I think the platform itself adds a certain gravitas that they often don’t deserve,” Kazemi explained. “On the plus side, that gravitas can be applied to anything, including computer-generated near-nonsense, to add a kind of context that makes the generated work seem more meaningful.”

In other words? “It lets me allow my algorithm to use the same crutches that human writers use every day.”

To test that premise, we asked Content, Forever to write a little something on the very industry it was designed to critique: online journalism. This particular iteration begins with that phrase and ends with the shrine where Aristotle taught Alexander the Great as a child.

Online journalism: a History
Digital journalism creates an opportunity for niche audiences, allowing people to have more options as to what to view and read.
In practice, product vendors and trade businesses are commonly referred as mainstream providers or narrow demographics niche market providers (colloquially shortened to just niche market providers).
Because of the huge amount of similar products in the automotive industry, there is a special kind of defining a car with options (marks, attributes), that represent the characteristics features of the vehicle.
The table below shows the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturing groups, along with the marques produced by each one.
Mars extended its brand to ice cream, Caterpillar to shoes and watches, Michelin to a restaurant guide, Adidas and Puma to personal hygiene.
Michelin has long published two guidebook series, the Red Guides to hotels and restaurants, and the Green Guides for tourism.
The Cuevas Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (named after the author) in Guadix, Spain, as well as several hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey, are notable for being built into natural cave formations, some with rooms underground.
Under the later kings of the Persian Empire, the Cappadocians were divided into two satrapies, or governments, with one comprising the central and inland portion, to which the name of Cappadocia continued to be applied by Greek geographers, while the other was called Pontus.
The satrapic administration and title were retained—even for Greco-Macedonian incumbents—by Alexander the Great, who conquered the Achaemenid Empire, and by his successors, the Diadochi (and their dynasties) who carved it up, especially in the Seleucid Empire, where the satrap generally was designated as strategos; but their provinces were much smaller than under the Persians.
Mieza was like a boarding school for Alexander and the children of Macedonian nobles, such as Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander.
The End.

… If that’s not a solid outline for a future-of-media think piece, I don’t know what is.