Turn to Algorithms When Even Skimming Is Too Much Work

October 2, 2014

Shortcut specialists take heart: automatic summarization tools now abound, and MakeUseOf reviews a few in its piece, “Too Lazy to Skim? Get the Gist with These Top 3 Summarization Tools.” Who has time to actually read nuanced articles in our sound-bite-driven culture? Reporter Jessica Coccimiglio describes the method behind her evaluations:

I tested each online summarizer tool by summarizing Vox’s 1700 word article arguing why cyclists should be able to roll through stop signs and ride through red lights (aka the Idaho Stop). I chose this article because it is highly structured, presents an argument, is not technical, and has the potential to affect the daily lives of people in a wide variety of countries (like MakeUseOf’s international audience).

There are a few things common to good summaries:

*All the critical pieces of logic are included for an argument to make sense.

*Prevent information overload. Main ideas are favoured over details.

*Each sentence should make a unique point, not reiterate other points.

Coccimiglio uses that scofflaw-cyclist article to put her top three choices, Tools4noobs’ Online Summarize Tool, SMMRY, and Automatic Text Summarizer, through their paces. Of those, she seems to prefer Automatic Text Summarizer. Though she likes some of the features at SMMRY, she couldn’t get all of them to work at the time of her writing; she did, however, like the quality of the summary itself. Sadly, the write-up has little good to say about Tools4noobs’ offering.

Coccimiglio goes on to briefly mention three other tools the she tried, none of which met her standards: Free Summarizer, Text Compactor, and Summarize This. She notes that, should readers dislike such tools, they could try speed-reading to move through the copious amount of material to be found online. She hopes, though, that her audience will read her publication’s articles in full. I can sympathize.

Cynthia Murrell, October 02, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext


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