Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Diminishing Power of the Press

Over here, an American Journalism Review piece by Carl Sessions Stepp:
As news coverage democratizes and as producers proliferate, the fabled “power of the press” may diminish. [....] When mainstream news organizations were riding at their highest, they were tougher targets. In those days, too, even in war zones reporters were often extended at least some Red Cross-like protection by combatants.
But treating journalists as VIPs means that companies, organizations, or individuals can get away with bad behavior as long as it's in front of non-VIPs — it's okay if nobody important is watching.

Over here, we have Ken White at Popehat:
The Patrick McLaw story blowing up over the long weekend can be traced to terrible reporting by WBOC journalist Tyler Butler in a post that was linked and copied across the internet.
Ken's full post provides links to journalists who already have the respect of the public, but end up betraying it, "accept[ing] the headline-grabbing take rather than the less scandalous but more correct take."

An increase in "citizen journalists" seems less like a bug, and more like a feature.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Data Scientists Complain that No One Has Made them Obsolete Yet

In this corner, the New York Times:
"For Big-Data Scientists, ‘Janitor Work’ Is Key Hurdle to Insights"
"We really need better tools so we can spend less time on data wrangling and get to the sexy stuff,” said Michael Cavaretta, a data scientist at Ford Motor, which has used big data analysis to trim inventory levels and guide changes in car design.
And in this corner, Tyler Cowen:
"What are humans still good for? The turning point in Freestyle chess may be approaching
...even the most talented humans move from being very real contributors to being strictly zero marginal product.  Or negative marginal product, as the case may be.
And of course this has implications for more traditional labor markets as well.  You might train to help a computer program read medical scans, and for thirteen years add real value with your intuition and your ability to revise the computer’s mistakes or at least to get the doctor to take a closer look.  But it takes more and more time for you to improve on the computer each year.  And then one day…poof!  ZMP for you.
The data wrangling (or "janitor work") is the sexy stuff. Complaining that no one has automated 50%-80% of your job is an interesting perspective  why do you think they would stop anywhere short of 100%?