What if artificial intelligence was the nurturing humus that the publishing industry and blogs need to bloom again? What if the future of blogging was in the virtual hands of an army of machines that can work together with professional writers to build and spread knowledge? This is the story of Samur Isma, founder and publisher of the online design magazine FREEYORK, which publishes 25-30 articles a week employing just two editors. How do they do this? Let’s look closer to understand Samur’s visionary model.

A.I. is a mindset.

FREEYORK - Illustration

Eclectic and creative, Samur is halfway between tech and design with a strong entrepreneurial mindset. After starting his career as a freelance graphic designer, he has studied computer science at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Mersin and, then, at the Technical University of Wroclaw – where he graduated in computer science and marketing. In 2009 he founded FREEYORK, and nowadays he divides his mind and his time between his daytime job at IBM as a project manager, the management of his editorial project FREEYORK, and the organization of the Startup Weekend in Wroclaw. And he still manages to have some fun!

Samur Isma with a part of the team

Samur Isma with a part of FREEYORK‘s team: Samur is holding the camera, while the girl on the right (covering her face) is an editor, the one on a left contributes to FREEYORK, the guy on the left (in sunglasses) is FREEYORK‘s Business strategy advisor and consultant, and the tall guy on the left, helps FREEYORK with graphic design.

FREEYORK: the editorial project

Born as a community-driven platform, FREEYORK aims to spread the works and stories of upcoming artists.

Previously, designers and other members of the community used to submit their artworks and their stories, reaching a wide audience of design-lovers. Until a few weeks ago, all the work was done by two editors, plus Samur: just three persons were covering photography, design, illustration, street art, architecture, fashion, and food. Now, content submission is available again for website members, through a newly rolled-out system.

FREEYORK is an eye wide-open on all kind of visual contemporary art and publishes a huge amount of inspiring content that helps artists and studios to get known and design-lovers to find new artists and creative ideas from all around the world.

FREEYORK's Homepage

Unleashing the power of A.I.

FREEYORK’s editorial team has a secret weapon to stay ahead of their competition, and that secret weapon is A.I.

Together with Samur and his small editorial team, there is a kind of cyber-team composed by A.I. tools, whose activities are now part of the magazine’s editorial workflow. Day by day, A.I. is helping the human team to do a better job in content writing, editing, and organization.

Our current workflow involves usage of three A.I. tools: an A.I. that writes the content of an article, another A.I. that analyses it for grammar mistakes and replaces words that don’t fit into a context, and WordLift” explains Samur. The first step is to collect some materials on a topic. After finding a few sources, we are giving them A.I. to rewrite. The second step is to analyze what first A.I. wrote, fix grammar mistakes, and replace those words that don’t make any sense. Finally, we let WordLift annotate an article and think of a catchy headline. A.I., unfortunately, is not good at this yet!
So, basically, there is an A.I. working at each stage of the editorial process: writing, editing, and organizing. Oh, wait! What about human editors? What will they do in the future of the web? Here is what Samur has to say about this:
It scares a lot of people for their future. Especially those who’re working with numbers. I think that writers that use a lot of statistics and numerical data have a bigger chance to be replaced by A.I. As a perfect example, we can take The Associated Press that is using A.I. to write Minor League Baseball articles. That must be an alarming sign for sports writers. As for FREEYORK, I’m hoping to find a perfect solution that will combine writing and editing in one tool and on the top of that if it should read the text and think of a catchy headline. But nothing ever will substitute a well-written writer’s opinion on a subject. In the future, I’m hoping to form a brilliant team of editors that will write long-posts expressing their opinion on an artist’s work, exhibitions, installations, and so on. Who doesn’t appreciate a well-written article?”
Put this way, A.I. is more an opportunity than a threat, both for writers and publishers. State-of-the-art A.I. is ready to free journalists and writers from boring and repetitive tasks in their work day. What do you do when A.I. is quicker and cheaper than humans to write news and analysis? As a writer, you can focus on critics, opinions, and storytelling: that’s human stuff and no machine can make it better than professionals.
FREEYORK's entity - New York

See New York from FREEYORK’s point of view. Isn’t it wonderful?

As a small publisher competing with bigger players, Samur is working on a new business model which will rely less on display advertising.
I wanted to make WordPress more intelligent and that’s exactly what WordLift does” states Samur. “At first, when I introduced WordLift to the team, they were skeptical about it and stated “Why we need this, tags are doing the same job with a less effort anyway, but I kept on pushing because there is a huge potential in this.
Samur is not ready to share the details of his new – A.I. powered – business model, but I’m sure we’ll come back on it to see where this adventure is going to land. 🤖 Meanwhile, he is seeing WordLift’s effect on his key metrics:
We approached WordLift while experiencing a decrease in our organic traffic. After a few months using it, our organic traffic reached and exceeded previous figures and it is still growing at a stable rate.
Our brainy CEO, Andrea Volpini, is analyzing Samur’s data to better understand the impact of our plugin on FREEYORK: I promise we’ll come back soon with more information and insights about it!
Update: the results of Andrea’s analysis have been presented at SEMANTiCS 2017 in Amsterdam. 🎉

 

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