Dezeen Magazine

Algorithmic journalism machine generates free newspaper for Milan design week

Milan 2014: Dezeen has teamed up with design research collaborative Space Caviar to distribute a free publication generated by an algorithmic journalism machine which will trawl content from social media and talks in Milan this week.

Led by former Domus editor Joseph Grima, Space Caviar has developed a real-time publishing algorithm called Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) a piece of software that will automatically create written articles from live speech and social media streams during a three-day programme of talks held in the Nike Aero-static Dome at Palazzo Clerici this week.

Algorithmic journalism machine by Space Caviar generates free FOMO newspaper in Milan this week

The FOMO publications will be printed and handed out for free from a travelling press room, but will be available to download from Dezeen.

"Inspired by the idea - as Bruce Sterling said - that "events are the new magazines", FOMO asks whether there is a remedy for the syndrome of missing out," said Space Caviar co-founder Joseph Grima. "Can the seemingly dead medium of print publishing adapt to the electronic age’s demand for instant gratification by embracing the speed of Twitter streams, Storify and various other social media?"

"The Salone is a very brief event unlike other exhibitions that last for months, everything here is compressed," added Grima. "If events are the thing that now drives contemporary production, we need to find a way for publishing to adapt to that condition, to explore a way to create an instant record."

Algorithmic journalism machine by Space Caviar generates free FOMO newspaper in Milan this week
Production process

Five speakers a day will participate in the On The Fly series of talks, including Atelier Bow Wow, Linda Fregni, Clemens Weisshaar, Formafantasma and Italo Rota.

They will explore contemporary design practice using a set of proscribed themes as a starting point – sustainability, weightlessness and seamlessness. Each speaker will also present a minimum of two images to accompany their talk.

FOMO will use voice recognition software, combined with information scraped from online data including tweets and instagram activity using the hashtag #OnTheFlyMilan, to automatically generate a PDF document.

This is will then be published on the FOMObile – a roving publishing press with its own built-in power generator and solar-powered wi-fi hotspot. The press will print each PDF, which will be saddle stitched on the spot before being distributed for free. The PDF will also be available to download from Dezeen.

Algorithmic journalism machine by Space Caviar generates free FOMO newspaper in Milan this week

"FOMO is a commentary on the ever-accelerating automation of many professions, including journalism," said Grima. "It tests the conceptual boundaries of publishing technology, questioning what the systemic and aesthetic consequences of a future of automated everything will be."

The On The Fly project will be FOMO's first test in a real-world environment. Anyone, anywhere will be able to take part by using the #OnTheFlyMilan hashtag on social media on Wednesday 9, Thursday 10, and Friday 11 April between 5.00 and 7.30pm CET.