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Media & Tech

The Fortnightly Column

As a weekly columnist for a 140-year-old newspaper, I’m an endangered species. I’m like a steak, cooking backwards: rarer by the second. More so now that the run of my column is being halved. There was a contraction in the newsroom. The afterbirth is, as Terry Gilliam might say, “100 percent more Less.” Ever hear…

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Media & Tech

Herb Caen Never Had to Make an Em Dash on a Chromebook

Those of a certain generation may recall Herb Caen, the erstwhile?San Francisco Chronicle?columnist who anchored the Macy’s ad next to his daily forays into what he called ?three dot journalism.? I never met Caen but my mother, when a bank VP, retained his services as an on-call personality. This was during the rollicking ?90s when…

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Lit Game Media & Tech

Literary Criticism by Robots

Writers who fear that computers will someday displace them may shudder to learn that the machines won’t just write the books, they will read them too. In recent months, both researchers and literary critics are harnessing computational power to ‘read? books in an effort to divine qualities human writers and readers haven’t the bandwidth to…

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Media & Tech

Narrative Science Robots Want My Job

When I first learned about Chicago-based Narrative Science, the smallest, weakest part of my ego caught flame and soon an inferno of doubt engulfed my every thought. The firm’s artificial intelligence algorithms combine “business analytics” and “natural language communication” in a manner that makes raw data easily consumable. Basically, they’ve taught robots to write news…

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Media & Tech

All Saints Day: Simon Templar is The Saint

Because you have nothing better to do on All Saints Day, here’s a selection of the opening credits of The Saint, a Brit TV spy thriller starring a pre-Bond Roger Moore as a suave modern Robin Hood known as Simon Templar. He is described by his creator, author Leslie Charteris, as a “buccaneer in the…

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Media & Tech

War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast: When Hearing is Believing

23-year-old Orson Welles put the me in mea culpa when he apologized for his infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast of the Martian invasion tale.