Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Around the Word

iJournalist: Writing robots made news this week when the New York Times reported that 20 different companies and publications are letting computers do some of their writing. Narrative Science is a software developed at Northwestern University that analyzes data and uses it to create convincingly human prose. Currently used primarily for sports and finance stories, the creators of Narrative Science hope it has the potential to revolutionize data-driven journalism. "In five years, a computer program will win the Pulitzer Prize," company founder Kris Hammond told the Times. "And I'll be damned if it's not our technology." What do you think about this new form of cyber journalism? (h/t GalleyCat)

Time is on our side: The sheer number of traditional books in print, coupled with the thousands-upon-thousands of self-published titles available on demand, has made the business of deciphering the mediocre from the must-reads increasingly difficult. Luckily, Time magazine is here to help -- in one genre, at least -- by compiling a list of the All-Time 100 Best Non-fiction Books to help guide our wandering eyes. The list encompasses the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 -- the beginning of Time -- and breaks them down by category (autobiography, memoir, biography, politics, etc.). Literary icons such as Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and George Orwell all claim a spot, while some surprising contemporaries, including Barack Obama, Ralph Nader and Stephen King, round things out. Anything on the list you're surprised by, or wish you'd seen?

A book by any other name: Coming up with a title for your book can be mighty challenging -- a nonfiction title has to stand out from the crowd, capture your message and be SEO-friendly. For some helpful tips on navigating the pitfalls of naming your nonfiction work, check out this post at BookBuzzr. Strategies like mimicking your market's tone, engaging your readers' curiosity and staying searchable will help your nonfiction title find its perfect audience. What are your tips for finding a fantastic title?

Not your grandma's dictionary: When the boring old OED just won't do, we found a list of the best "Alterna-Dictionaries" the web has to offer. From the necessary-whenever-talking-to-a-fifteen-year-old Urban Dictionary, to the pop-culturally savvy Dictionary of TV Tropes, to the hopelessly nerdy Literary Terms Dictionary, these dictionaries run the gamut from occasionally useful to purely entertaining.

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