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Monday, August 13, 2012

Combinatorial Publishing and Algorithmic Content

I, and I think most others, believe content is king in publishing. It is the driving engine, the heart that pumps life-giving functions to all the peripherals of publishing, blah, blah, etc.

The question raised and discussed in today's post is: can creative content be created by machine generated algorithms?

You are invited to read another post of mine Insight Into How SEO Affects Publishing and Content (and Ultimately Book Marketing)

But, back to combinatorial publishing and algorithmic content --- Dan Woods, Forbes contributor, makes these prognostications:

How Algorithmically Created Content will Transform Publishing

A recent conversation with Fred Zimmerman, a long time friend and publishing entrepreneur, woke me up to the fact that the a part of the publishing industry that has long resisted technology may finally be ripe for transformation. The key question is: Does algorithmic content creation that uses machine learning and automation have a role to play in content creation?
The first impulse of most people like me, who have spent much of their careers writing for love and money, is to loudly answer NO WAY. I firmly believe that it is impossible to replace the creativity of the human mind and the skill of writing learned over years with an algorithm.

But Zimmerman, who is CEO of Nimble Books, is pioneering a new technique he calls combinatorial publishing that can create a book that is useful in seconds for pennies. He persuasively argues that algorithmic content creation has an important role to play, even if the virtuosity of the human will always be the beating heart of content creation.

After talking to Zimmerman, I realized that my knee-jerk rejection of machine learning and automation frames the question too narrowly. He persuaded me that the following observations are true:

•Algorithmic content creation will play a role in creating types of content that we are not using now.

•Algorithmic content creation will accelerate and enhance the traditional process of content creation.

•Algorithmic content creation will support new types of hybrid content that is collaboratively created by humans and machines.

•Algorithmic content creation changes the economics of publishing.

•The automation pioneered by algorithmic content creation will improve traditional publishing.

It is important to note that publishing has been transformed in many ways already. Machines and automation play a huge role in helping find much of the content we read today through search and recommendation engines. Web publishing and e-books have changed the form that content takes.

Algorithmic Content Creation: A New Frontier

But a look a current practice for content creation suggests that there is much to be learned. Almost all the content we find through machine assisted means was created the same way that it has been for hundreds of years. A person wrote the content and it was then published using a system for mass distribution.

Read and learn more

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