I, Robot Journalist

Babbage reports on "My Boss Is a Robot," an experiment in hiring untrained people (via Mechanical Turk) "to perform the equivalent of journalistic piecework":

To start with, the group has chosen to bash out the kind of article with which Babbage is all too familiar: a write-up of a newly released scientific research paper. Rather than assign the task as a whole to a single person, their system will try to tease apart and outsource different elements of analysis and production.

The effort will not embrace a wiki-like approach, in which drafts are successively (and sometimes simultaneously) revised by unrelated parties who may or may not bring particular expertise to the table, and who can all see the current state of work. Instead, the group will atomise the process of writing an article into multiple steps which can be accomplished in isolation. (Part of the project is to see how reproducibleor notsuch tasks really are.) Tasks might include writing a headline, summarising a chart, or providing a conclusion for a subsection of text.