Meet the Headitors

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Late last year I was fortunate to be invited by Al Jazeera for the Media in Context hackathon in Doha, Qatar. In an effort to predict the future of news, Al Jazeera put together data scientists, developers, journalists, designers, civil activists and mentors from all over the world in one room for three days to solve innovation challenges. I gravitated towards Building Smarter Headlines challenge where I met Sofia (journalist) and Kartik (developer) – and boom!!! The Headitor was born.

headitors(Chris Orwa, Sofia Lotto, Kartik Mandaville)

The headitor is (was intended to be) a dynamic headlines generation platform that suggests different headlines for different demographics and social media platforms using machine learning algorithms. In essence, generating 7 billion headlines for each individual on planet earth. We started by gathering headline from the New York Times and USA Today via their respective APIs .

Second, we filtered for tweeted articles and got the number of retweets on each headline via the Twitter API. At this point we were then be able to suggest replacement words that are likely to attract more readership. Third, we built a functionality that summarised an article written by a journalist, then suggest words/phrases suitable for headlines on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn by a subjectivity-sentiment score. Voila! We had a Minimal Viable Product.

headAnother cool idea as shown in the image above was re-writing of headlines by age, since certain words never existed before their inventions alternative words replace them with older words.

Here’s the presentation:

Although we didn’t win a price a number of news outlets covered the ‘product’.

Sadly Headitors Inc had to close shop after 4 long days in business. To our esteemed customers, you can still find the code on GitHub – Happy Hacking!

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