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Talk Social: 11 July, 2017

Google funds robot reporters


Having spearheaded the online revolution that placed the future of the regional and local media under threat, Google is now trying to do something about it.

The search giant has given a grant of hundreds of thousands of pounds to help the UK’s Press Association with a robot reporting project that will see up to 30,000 stories written for use by local media each month.

The initiative, called Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR) will use open government and local authority data to create ‘fact-based’ stories relevant to local communities, such as housing, employment and health. A team of five human journalists will run the system, ensuring the template stories are able to be scaled up for widespread use locally.

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Emoji search – what a sign of the times


The spread of the emoji across social and online sites has now led to the emergence of emoji search.

Sites such as travel site Kayak and business directory Yelp are providing search result answers to queries that consist purely of an emoji, such as a pig emoji delivering results for local restaurants serving pork and a sun emoji giving holiday options in Dubai and Turkey. A clover emoji will provide answers for breaks in Dublin, while the Statue of Liberty emoji (obviously) returns options for New York.

This is now advancing into search giants such as Google and Bing. For instance, Google’s understanding of emojis is now at the level that it will soon be able to understand that when a user types in the hamburger and fries emojis, they’re looking for a fast food restaurant.

If you want to feel old, Kayak’s site describes the reason why as ‘because spelling things is so 2015’.

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Amazon’s Alexa adds to her skill set


The scope of voice search was discussed on this page last week, with almost half of internet users failing to see the point of it.

New data released from Amazon about its Alexa personal assistant, controlled by the Echo controller,  shows that its number of ‘skills’ has now passed 15,000.

A ‘skill’ is a service Alexa can perform, each of which can be added to its functionality, making it more useful to the user.

The number of skills has grown from 10,000 in February, with more being added all the time, pushing the Amazon voice assistant far beyond Google and Microsoft’s alternatives.

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What’s the influence of drinks brands on social?


Facebook has released fresh data about people’s responses to drinks brands on the social network.

A research report commissioned by the online giant has provided insight into the actions that are prompted by seeing posts about different drinks.

And while the study focused on non-alcoholic drinks and American users, the parallels are clear for producers of alcohol brands and UK-based brands, too.

The main finding is that 40 per cent of Millennials say seeing images or video of drinks on Facebook and Instagram helps them decide to try a new drink.

More than one in three of those surveyed admit to using either Facebook or Instagram while in bars, cafes and restaurants.

And three quarters of the 1,000 people surveyed revealed they check social networks to find stockists of drinks brands that they want to buy.

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How to turn iPhones into multiple live cameras


As more brands use Facebook Live to reach their social audiences, the ability to make those broadcasts more professional is increasing.

Switcher is a free app and paid-for studio service that allows multiple Apple devices – iPhones and iPads – to connect, allowing multiple camera angles for a live broadcast.

The latest update to Switcher Studio – the paid for, beefed-up version of the programme – allows up to nine cameras to be used, controlled from a central ‘studio’, along with still images and graphic overlays.

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