The Future of Blogging: Computer-Generated or Human-Generated Blogs

Filed as Features on March 19, 2007 8:41 am

Discovery News reports that there’s a computer program that writes its own fiction, which might scare a few writers.

The program, called MEXICA, is the first to generate original stories based on computerized representations of emotions and tensions between characters.

Rafael Pérez y Pérez, MEXICA’s creator, explains, “The program keeps a record of the emotional links between characters while developing a story, and employs its knowledge about emotions to retrieve from memory possible logical actions to continue the story.”

An Internet survey was done to allow readers to vote on which stories they liked without knowing the source, and MEXICA’s stories ranked highest for “flow and coherence, structure, content, suspense and overall quality.”

Fiction writers, and bloggers, might want to take note and pay close attention. Your competition might be a machine.

I wish I was kidding.

Computers Replace Bloggers

The issue of whether or not we will be praising computer-generated fiction in the future is one debate. The other is whether or not computers will become bloggers.

Already our blog content is illegally copied and spread out across the web through feed scrapers, letting our hard work be used by lazy bloggers as a replacement for their content. Computers generating content isn’t about splogs stealing our content. It’s about computers become the source of content.

And our competition.

In the future, I have no doubt that computers will be able to scan the web looking for news stories. They will have the ability to analyze trends, and even predict them. They can already quickly cull information and references from various sources and generate fairly accurate summaries and lists, so what would be so hard to add a few words and turn those into paragraphs?

I’d like to believe that human-generated content will win out over computer-generated content, but something bigger is at work here in the blogging industry.

Too many bloggers are lazy, blogging with the “echo chamber method”, regurgitating content with blockquotes, link lists, and fast references. There is so little original content on the web today with all of the copying-copied-stories blogging – unique computer-generated and original looking blog content would be easy to appreciate. A sophisticated program could check with other members of it’s blog-content-generating tribe to see if they are blogging about the same thing, and change the content accordingly to make theirs sound distinctive and “original” from the rest.

Should Computer-Generated Blog Content Be Labeled?

About 15 years ago, there was a huge debate over “wild and free” and “captive” wildlife photography in the publishing industry. Should “captive” animal images be labeled as such so the public knows that this is a “set up” shot and the animal is not in its truly native environment? Or should “wild and free” photographs be labeled so readers know that the photographer went out into the dangerous wilderness to find the animal and photograph it there?

People argued that “wild and free” photographers were actually hurting the wildlife by infringing upon their “wildness”. Others argued “reader beware”, warning the public that these images weren’t really of truly wild photographic subjects. Many believed that set up shots were bad and that “wild is better” as the animal is free from human harm. No animal on this planet is free from human harm, so you see the silliness of a lot of these arguments. The demand for labeling images led to the industry standard today for wildlife magazines and books to label and identify how and where these images were taken, covering both sides of the debate.

Example of future blog ingredients labelShould blogs be labeled “computer-generated content” or “human-generated content”? What about splogs? Should they be forced to wear a label that says “not original content” or “feed scraped content”? How could they be labeled without also giving them permission and encouraging content theft?

What if only a part of a blog’s content is computer-generated and the rest human-generated? Should the label be on individual posts or on the blog overall as “40% human-generated content”, like food labels? Wow. Think about it. Our blog labels could soon look like can food labels!

This is our future, fellow bloggers. I wish I was kidding. Humans are always trying to find the lazy way of doing things, and computer-generated blog content is a really easy way to blog. It might take all the fun out of it, but it’s coming to a blog near you soon.


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on .

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  1. By Jehzeel Laurente posted on March 19, 2007 at 12:15 pm
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    I really can’t surmise it. The MEXICA creator is a freakin awesome genius! whoAAAA!!!

  2. By baldur posted on March 19, 2007 at 2:02 pm
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    Commodity writing, a.k.a. hackwork, will continue to be turned into identical, formulaic, pre-fabricated crap.

    There are two ways of looking at machine-generated writing. One is to view them as a threat. Another is to view them as a very efficient algorithm for detecting exactly the sort of writing that shouldn’t be done by humans. It’d raise the bar on writing for the web and for interactivity which is only a good thing.

  3. Work At Home Business Opportunities Weblog | The Future Of Blogging - Computer Generated Blogs Dominate The Blogosphere?March 19, 2007 at 7:08 pm
  4. By ianmack posted on March 19, 2007 at 8:57 pm
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    I’d personally make the decision after actually reading the end product. After all, if a computer can write a great blog post that’s useful and informative, why wouldn’t I consider it valuable? Just because it was written by a robot? I’m all for disclosure about products, (since I want to know if my dollars help or destroy the rainforest) but for information, it’s the consumer that decides the value, not the producer.

  5. By Jonathan Bailey posted on March 19, 2007 at 9:25 pm
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    It is highly unlikely that computers will ever completely replace humans. Are computers going to research stories? Conduct interviews? Find news? Interpret complicated facts into digestable stories? Make boring matters interesting? Not likely.

    At some point a human has to step in and write something. At least for the foreseeable future.

    That being said, computers can and already have replaced much of the echo chamber. I don’t see that as a bad thing wholly. As you said, there are many lazy bloggers out there and their roles can easily be replaced by machines.

    Machines may, some day, replace those bloggers. They already have in my world. I use Technorati watchlists and and Google Blog Searches to find new posts of interest, I don’t reply on copyright digest blogs though they do exist. I used my watchlists to find this post and others like it.

    Bloggers that put time and care into their posts likely will not suffer that much. I pen over a thousand words a weekday for my blog. I owe any success I have to my writing, research and effort. I don’t think a machine could replace that, not yet anyway.

    The less creative and lazier you are, the more likely you’re going to be replaced, it’s that simple. The more machine-like your blog, the more likely a machine can fill its function.

    All in all, I agree with Baldur. Machine writing is scary, but only to those who are writing in a way that can be replaced by a machine.

    Humans can and should use this as a tool to be better writers and to free up our echo chamber to actually produce something new.

    It sounds like, in the long-run, it could be a win-win.

    As far as the content-theft issues go, that is a completely separate issue to me. If a machine can write on its own, that’s one thing. If it simply takes my writing, that is another.

    The law agrees with me there.