Fewer and fewer shut-off valves

“We will pass from the connections. It makes sense to fact-check a twerking video. Thankfully there’s no thundersnow.”

Coming up with original ideas to write is hard. It’s expensive too. Human beings cost money to employ. Having them come up with original work and writing it all out racks up a bill. For instance, I am a grossly overpaid public university professor, so paying me to write predictions for 2015 is going to cost a pile of cash.

matt-waiteAnd given my whiff last year, it may not produce much value.

So a good deal of attention this past year went to bot written stories as a way to create value while dropping costs. We can debate all day about if this is a good idea, but given the state of media right now, we can safely predict one of two things will happen next year:

  • Bots will continue to write more and more stories, feeding into the gigantic swirling maw of the Internet, hoping to snag just a moment of your attention in the hopes you’ll see an ad that pays more than the story cost while you’re there.
  • We’ll finally figure out how to make original content pay on the web and the feed-the-beast, hot-takes-for-clicks economy will collapse in a not-to-be-missed heap.

So, to save Nieman Lab a lot of (fictional) money, and to prove a point, I am not going to write (more) predictions for next year. It’s too hard and too expensive. So I’m going to let my computer do it.

To do this, I took all of last year’s predictions — all 38,053 words of them — and fed them to a Highly Technological Natural Machine Language Learning Algorithm Bot (nerds: a simple Markov chain generator). Using that corpus and that algorithm, I generated 200 Original Statements About the Future.

Then, using a Highly Advanced Editorial Workflow System I call editing, I cut those 200 statements down to a set of predictions that I will now claim as my own. They are:

  • As producers, we will not bring final resolution to the severe crisis that is affecting what the media consider newsworthy.
  • Ambient interfaces will begin to think about how concepts like audience segmentation, multivariate testing, and propensity modeling can be as citizens and policymakers.
  • We will pass from the connections. It makes sense to fact-check a twerking video. Thankfully there’s no thundersnow.
  • We’ll probably see some more super-rich people jumping into the product.
  • An API will change if television is disrupted on a given point in time — and that will have an impact at a bar.
  • Big audiences still want to receive alerts that are spun off.
  • TV and radio evolve to be all about data.
  • We will start to be suspicious of business plans or pitches that don’t start with an intensive three-day introduction into design thinking.
  • More Instagrams.
  • For newspapers, get the hang of convincing strangers to tell stories using drones for their own dedicated drone units, with specialists who know what they’re doing or where they’re doing it, to take advantage of the wearable devices. With the addition of HBO GO, require consumers to create projects that are useful to them in a restaurant without seeing people on their morning commute.
  • Computational social scientists are already working on wearable technology, however, they are tackling interesting problems, and I personally look forward to reading the email lists where she asks her question about how to be able to quickly iterate and push ideas to market, all while empowering culture changes along the way for customers who advertise with media companies with giant databases of information that makes up articles.
  • Fewer and fewer shut-off valves.
  • Using a phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer, we can have or facilitate real conversations. It raises the bar, getting increasingly good at what you are.
  • The very best will linger in your feed (especially if you want to listen to us on the wane, but still, the people who come to Gawker Media as the way you may have let local media still has the power expressed in the stories that are hiding in plain sight).
  • We’re going to see in front of a hexacopter suddenly crashing into the comments, saying there was talk of the 24-hour news cycle and expect readers to roam away from preventing people from sharing it freely, as they also want the audience clicks most often.
  • We probably aren’t ready to master this new uncertainty.

There you go. Completely original predictions, generated in a few seconds, edited down in a matter of minutes, and they could hardly do worse than my prediction last year.

It’s a trend. Bank on it.