Automatic Bob Herbert

Evan Coyne Maloney of Brain Terminal writes:

According to Nancy Kruh of The Dallas Morning News, veteran New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has been stuck in a rut for years. “For several months now,” Kruh writes, “as I’ve read one Iraq war column after another, one thought always comes to mind: Um, haven’t I read this before? So, yesterday, I finally immersed myself in Lexis-Nexis to try to quantify and qualify this phenomenon.”

What Kruh discovered is that many of Herbert’s columns during the Bush presidency contain similar, interchangeable passages. She cites a number of examples that make it seem like your average Herbert column is just a random recombination of wording from earlier columns.

Given the paper’s recent stock performance and rumblings from restless investors, I thought I’d help the Times find ways to put out the same product for less money. So I spent about fifteen minutes writing software that can generate Bob Herbert columns while using a minimal amount of our Earth’s precious resources.

You can find the fruit of Evan’s creativity and ecological concerns here.


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