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Fantasy football and the cold future of robot journalism

For fantasy football players, the service is a clever added bonus that keeps people on site longer. It’s like having a hometown beat reporter covering your fantasy team: analyzing your draft picks, providing fun recaps of games, and insightful game-day analysis. But Automated Insights, and contemporaries like Narrative Science, are having a major impact outside the realm of fantasy football. Such prominent news organizations as Associated Press are trialing this…

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News Feed FYI: Click-baiting

It’s hard for me to think of Facebook as the “good guy” in any situation, but I am pleased to learn that FB is adjusting its algorithm to penalize click-bait headlines. A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We’re making these changes to…

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Confuse Students to Help Them Learn

Confusing sometimes helps cats, so why not students? I’m afraid your cat badly needs to be confused. Confusion is a powerful force in education. It can send students reeling toward boredom and complacency. But being confused can also prompt students to work through impasses and arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the world. “Common wisdom holds that confusion should be avoided during learning and rapidly resolved if and when…

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I accidentally started a Wikipedia hoax

Hoaxes roam the Information Superhighway, camouflaged as factoids. Consider this one: “Amelia Bedelia was a maid in Cameroon.” The “Amelia Bedelia was a maid in Cameroon” factoid had been cited in a lesson plan by a Taiwanese English professor. It was cited in a book about Jews and Jesus. It was cited in innumerable blog posts and book reports, as well as a piece by blogger Hanny Hernandez, who speculated that Amelia…

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The Key To Better Work? E-mail Less, Flow More

What the researchers found was that the typical diversion caused by an e-mail was nine minutes and 30 seconds in length. Now that was just the time spent on the e-mail itself. After that, it still took the participants of the study another 16 minutes to resume their primary task. That’s a lot of lost time. Not only does e-mail hinder our ability to accomplish the essential aspects of our…