Your weekly digital media digest
You can’t automate subbing, but can you automate style guides?
Subediting is a tough task for humans at the best of times; how can a computer be so witty as to generate the headlines, be so smart as to know what words to cut, and be so particular as to notice every tiny formatting quirk.
Well, they can’t (at least not yet), but they can help us in other ways.
Enter proselint, a linter for prose. Linters have existed in programming for a long time, and the name is familiar to those of us that write any kind of programming language. Computers are really strict as to what they will accept, and linters help highlight in your code when you make mistakes, typos, or maybe create something that you never use so your code doesn’t get cluttered. Programmers have thought how this kind of instant feedback could be applied to prose, and have produced this basic ‘linter’ to test it out.
Proselint matches your writing against a predefined styleguide and highlights when you make a mistake, whether that’s a typo, or a cliche statement, or you format a date incorrectly, or you use a term that there’s a stylistic preferred alternative for. It does this all silently, in the background, improving how writers can write, and reducing the mental burden on subs to remember all the tiny things, so they can focus on the more cognitively taxing tasks.
You can try it out against their style guide at proselint.com/write/
More from this week
- The Wall Street Journal are getting some great numbers out of Snapchat, calling it a long-term play to engage with an audience that are not currently engaging with their products otherwise. Digiday have an interview with London-based Sarah Marshall where she discusses how they have modified their storytelling to better match user behaviour on the platform. This week it was also revealed that The Sun will be taking up a place in the coveted Discover platform.
- Amazon will be leasing 20 Being 767 planes in order to cut down on its heavily loss-making delivery arm. Amazon have been working heavily on their last-mile delivery services, particularly for Prime customers with the launch of Prime Now, but now improving bulk logistics is in their sights. These are not the first planes Amazon has leased however, having a total of five leased jets last November.
- Facebook are worried at the effect teens puking rainbows in Snapchat might have on their bottom line and have started a face-detection filter war, purchasing Masquerade, or MASQ, to lead the charge. Demo’d below by yours truly, MASQ provides a range of filters including face-swapping technology, which has become popular with the ghostly startup’s users.
- There’s movement in the TV streaming space as the BBC and ITV are rumoured to be in the early stages of talks to launch their own ‘Netflix’ competitor, focusing on extending the commercial life of their combined archives. Last year, the BBC scrapped their international iPlayer, which levied a charge on users, and have not had a global video product since. In similar news…
- VICE, the Canadian hipster magazine now turned gonzo journalism specialists, are working on a global rollout of their Viceland TV channels, in partnership with A+E Networks. In the UK, Sky will be offering the channel as of September. Vice plan to launch up to 15 international channels featuring their online documentary programming, and exclusive HBO content. And that’s not all in broadcast…
- Amazon started their own live programming this week with Style Code Live, a 30 minute rundown of the latest in fashion. It looks Amazon have basically discovered what happens if you’re QVC, but you also own a video streaming platform, and have massive logistics deals.
- The New York Times are at odds as their CEO Mark Thompson publicly called out users with adblockers at New York Social Media Week calling them “not good” while the grey lady ran an editorial on saving smartphone battery, calling to “block power-hungry ads”. The state of the web ad market has even gained criticism in the latest satirical South Park season as character Stephen Stotch gets caught in an ad vortex.