How to write 1,000 stories while only writing one

Details about this week's March meet-up

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concepts of machine learning and AI, but what about natural language generation (NLG)?

Put simply, it involves the creation of scripts, written in code, that determine how structured data is transformed as natural language text.

The ABC’s Future Focus and Data Services teams are using NLG to power a voice app for ABC Emergency, which will give instant emergency information for any town or suburb in Australia.

This month, Jules Fell and Michael Collett will show you what the NLG scripts for that project look like, along with everything else they have learned about this exciting field along the way.

We’re totally online this month (but hope to return to a live event soon!) so please RSVP via our Meet-up page to get access to the Zoom link.

Event details


🛸 This visualisation of UFO-sighting records is a bit overwhelming (I wanted more ways to filter), but I appreciate that it’s a “reflection on the chaotic time we’re living through”

👪 “The Simpsons has waned in relevance and humor because it came of age in a political moment that no longer exists.”

📊 FiveThirtyEight has put all its data online. Check it out if you want to make visualisations of your own, or need something to start learning

About last month…

Huge thank-you to Professor Amanda Lotz for talking to us about the way internet technologies have disrupted the funding model of newspaper journalism. Here are some key points from her presentation:

  • Looking at journalism as a business can help shift the focus of the discussion and begin to work on solutions to the media funding problem

  • The business of newspapers is attracting, then selling attention - that's how it worked. That doesn't diminish its societal function. We have to understand where the money came from to make that all possible

  • Bundled newspapers had loads of other things - obits, crosswords, comics, movie listings etc - and it had ads

  • Ads were the revenue stream for newspapers: 80% in US, 70% in Australia

  • Internet communications technology unbundled the newspaper - and that matters to advertisers because that diminished the value of newspaper space

  • So advertising dollars shifted to better tools. A tech like "search" means businesses can place ads infront of people who are searching for a product - that has nothing to do with news or journalism

  • Newspapers lost the ad revenue that supported the news and journalism

  • In the background, there's a couple of other factors - the corporatisation of newspapers & cross-media competition

  • So what are the solutions? The core problem is funding, but we need to understand that ad money is the past

  • Subscription and public funding at scale are most viable solutions

  • A democratic society cannot function without news and journalism - the "value" of journalism cannot be exposed by graphs or data trying to consider what is lost if it's not there

Other bits

Don't forget we have a website where you can find out about speaking at, or pitching ideas for, a Hacks/Hackers Brisbane event.

About us

Hacks/Hackers is an international grassroots journalism organisation with dozens of chapters and thousands of members across four continents. Our mission is to create a network of journalists (“hacks”) and technologists (“hackers”) who rethink the future of news and information.

Hacks/Hackers Brisbane is run by Quants & Quills.