Welcome to Botweek 2016

A Tiny Festival of Newsbots & Automation

Hello, friends. (NASA)

Today kicks off the third annual Source Botweek, our yearly push to document the newsgathering bots, Slackbots, Twitter bots, and other automated creations that have emerged from newsrooms in the last year—and to check out a few extras from the makers of less practical/more adorable bots.

Everyone Loves Bots

This year brings a few new angles to the wider conversation about bots. The first is a wave of interest in chatbots for news, which became particularly frothy after Facebook recently began offering basic chatbots on its Messenger platform. Quartz has been offering a simple chat interface for news via its mobile app since February, and also helpfully covering the feverish interest with which the ad market (and thus news publishers) regard emerging chat platforms.

It’s too early to tell what effect these new, outward-facing chat interfaces will have on news organizations, so we’re focusing instead on the less glamorous world of pragmatic automation and journalist-facing chatbots, but over the next year, we look forward to watching reader-focused chat bots become more sophisticated, useful, and perhaps even profitable.

This year’s Botweek will also include a series of writeups from our first-ever bot-focused code convening. Code convenings are small OpenNews-hosted events that bring together small newsroom teams to write documentation and complete last-mile development on open-source projects. Our bot convening was held last week in Austin, and we’re looking forward to showing you the projects (and docs) that emerged from it.

Send in Your Bots

A final note: Botweek comes but once a year, but we welcome your automation-focused writeups and how-tos year-round. Send us your pitches and drafts, and let us know what you’re working on by joining our biweekly community call.


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