Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cute Blooper in Summary

I have noticed that the summary texts for RSS feeds tend to be given little attention when the feeds are created. While there have been a variety of research projects concerned with summarizing text, they have been better at revealing what we do not know about text understanding, rather than achieving their goal. Still, I do not think we can blame some of the more egregious spelling errors on those summaries on software; and, every now and then, the human-in-the-loop makes the sort of mistake that used to find its way to the bottom of a column in The New Yorker.

Today's feed from BBC News had just such a mistake. It unintentionally created misunderstanding. However, the situation was cute enough to be relatively harmless. The summary text, in its entirety, read:
The Dalai Lama carries Werther's Originals, and more nuggets
This summarized an article entitled "10 things we didn't know last week;" so it was pretty clear that the "nuggets" were the other "nine things." However, as it was written, the text suggested that the Dalai Lama carries a variety of candies with him, only one of which was named by brand, leaving the reader curious about what the others were!

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