Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Software agents give out Advice

Filed under
Software

Governments and big business like to indulge in media spin, and that means knowing what is being said about them. But finding out is becoming ever more difficult, with thousands of news outlets, websites and blogs to monitor.

Now a British company is about to launch a software program that can automatically gauge the tone of any electronic document. It can tell whether a newspaper article is reporting a political party's policy in a positive or negative light, for instance, or whether an online review is praising a product or damning it. Welcome to the automation of PR.

Till now, discovering whether the coverage you are getting is good or bad, negative or neutral has usually meant hiring a "reputation management" firm. Teams of people employed by the company will read through everything written about a chosen organisation, person, event or issue and report back on how favourable it is.

As well as being expensive, this can be a long, slow process, says Nick Jacobi, director of research for the Corpora Software company in Surrey, UK. "There's a massive information overload." A single news agency may churn out more than eight articles each hour. That is almost 200 stories a day per news outlet.

Previous attempts to automate this kind of analysis have used one of two techniques. In the first, called machine learning, a program is trained by being given thousands of articles already determined by a human reader to be positive or negative in tone.
But learning in this way can lead to mistakes. For example, if a series of the training articles mentions bomb attacks on a mosque in Iraq, the program may incorrectly conclude that all other mentions of mosques are negative too.

The alternative is the lexicon approach, in which certain words are classified as either positive or negative. But plenty of words can be both. "The plot was unpredictable" and "the steering was unpredictable" differ by just one word. Yet the word "unpredictable" has a positive connotation in the first example and a negative meaning in the second.

And even if that problem is solved, just picking up on positive or negative words can also lead to mistakes, as is demonstrated by the sentence: "Everyone told me it was terrible, that I would hate it, but in the end it wasn't at all bad".

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Salix Fluxbox 14.1 Is a Lightweight Modular Distro Based on Slackware

Along with the Openbox version of Salix, the Fluxbox edition is one of the lightest iterations available in the series. Unfortunately, it's not exactly on the list of priorities for the developer and it's been trailing a little behind, but now it's ready. Salix is one the few very active distributions based on Slackware, which is a famous and very stable operating system that has been around for quite a while. It's rather different from what everyone else is doing because it is a modular system and it has a rolling release model. Read more

Oracle and Canonical collaborate on support for Oracle Linux on Ubuntu

As part of this collaboration, Canonical will support Ubuntu as a guest OS on Oracle Linux OpenStack, and Oracle will support Oracle Linux as a guest OS on Ubuntu OpenStack. Canonical will test Oracle Linux as a guest OS in its OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL) program. This gives customers the assurance the configuration is tested and supported by both organisations. Read more

Debian Switches Back To GNOME As Its Default Desktop

There still though is the chance for change as Hess explains, "Some desired data is not yet available, but at this point I'm around 80% sure that gnome is coming out ahead in the process. This is particularly based on accessibility and to some extent systemd integration... The only single factor that I think could outweigh the above is media size, if there was a strong desire by Debian to see a single CD with a standalone usable desktop. However, the Debian live team doesn't care about fitting on a traditional CD; and while the Debian CD team hasn't made a statement, my impression as a member is that this is not something we care enough about any more to make it a hard blocker on the default desktop." Read more

3 tools that make scanning on the Linux desktop quick and easy

Whether you're moving to a paperless lifestyle, need to scan a document to back it up or email it, want to scan an old photo, or whatever reason you have for making the physical electronic, a scanner comes in handy. In fact, a scanner is essential. But the catch is that most scanner makers don't have Linux versions of the software that they bundle with their devices. For the most part, that doesn't matter. Why? Because there are good scanning applications available for the Linux desktop. They work with a variety of scanners, and do a good job. Let's take a look at a three simple but flexible Linux scanning tools. Keep in mind that the software discussed below is hardly an exhaustive list of the scanner software that's available for the Linux desktop. It's what I've used extensively and found useful. Read more