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Posts Tagged ‘summly’

More on Summly

March 28, 2013 Comments off

After yesterday’s post on Summly I’m seeing more folks talking/posting about it, such as a writer for Time who asks, Why Is That 17-Year-Old’s $30 Million News App Even Legal?  The key bit:

The issue now isn’t what fancy car the teenager plans to buy with his millions. The real question is whether Summly, and now Yahoo, can take news stories from around the Web, present altered versions of them, and not run afoul of copyright law.

The precedent here – that GoogleNews uses, for example – is that search or aggregation services can display article titles and lead sentences – that is deemed fair-use.  Content creators *want* such services to do this because it ultimately drives traffic to their sites.

However Summly does more than show a title.  Through its wondrous algorithms it creates a 400-word news summary that is supposed to contain the essence of the source news item.  While I haven’t directly experienced Summly (and probably never will) it seems clear to me that this will take traffic away from content creators – why read the original 1,000 word news item on Kim Kardashian when Summly can quickly give you the 400 words with the tastiest bits?

A US Court has already ruled, in Meltwater vs. A.P., that this type of abstraction goes beyond fair-use.  A key part of the evidence there was the contention that a lede – the key summary paragraph of a news story – takes substantial skill and effort to craft, and that Meltwater’s summary services was taking ledes and offering them separate from the original content.  Certainly sounds wrong to me.

I’m sure Summly will continue to make the rounds another day or two … the world will then get back to cat pictures and Boromir memes.  Meanwhile the winner of cleverest Summly headline so far goes to Reuters:

Is this story less than the Summly of its parts?

Categories: Technology Tags: ,

Another thing I don’t need

March 27, 2013 1 comment

A “genetic algorithm” that “thinks like I do” and that “helps” me find the news I need on my mobile phone, faster than ever.  All devised by a 17 year-old Harry Potter-like whiz kid entrepreneur who made a cool video with Stephen Fry and has now sold his company to Yahoo for $30 million.

This is Summly.  And, no thank you.

This is just more rampant “solutionism” – the mind-set of arbitrarily declaring something a problem, then selling you an “innovative” solution for it.  And if the solution provides you with monopoly power over a much-needed basic service, well, that’s the price of progress I suppose.  Clearly Summly aims to be the conduit that feeds you news and by doing so, will no doubt employ your personal settings for tuning these algorithms into other, I’m sure purely innocent, needs.  All this magic was in part evolved by SRI International, some legitimately clever people with a hand in creating “the Internet”, ultrasound diagnostics, robotic surgery but also – alas – Siri, that service which has enabled an entire industry devoted to stupid things it says.

For my part, here’s the news I need to have reach me on my mobile phone:

  1. Daughter’s school ending early today.
  2. Regional tsunami approaching.
  3. Timing of immanent life-ending asteroid strikes.
  4. Nuclear launch codes mistakenly left in Silicon Valley Red Robin being found by Dick Cheney.
    I’m pretty much covered on #’s 1- 3.  If someone writes an app for 4, maybe I’ll actually buy that – but meanwhile I will pass on Summly.

Stephen Fry, as to your role in all this I can only say (with the added bonus of being confident no one in existence has ever written this combination of words before):

I know you must pay the mortgage, but next time choose a means that would not so obviously raise the gorge of a hippopotamus to levels not seen since Noah decided the dinosaurs could very well swim for it.

Where is this Stephen Fry now that we need him?

Hold the news-reader’s nose squarely, Stephen.

Categories: Technology Tags: ,