Gossip Machine As An Information Trap

Gossip Machine As An Information Trap

Hot diggity! I made my first Web monitoring tool!

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while you’ve heard me talk about Gossip Machine. At its core, Gossip Machine analyzes a Wikipedia article’s page views over a given time period and identifies days with unusually high page views. The idea is that audience attention indicates something happened, and since you have the “fossilized attention” of Wikipedia viewers available via view logs, you can apply that to create Wikipedia topic web/news searches that are temporally-focused in a meaningful way. (You can try Gossip Machine for yourself at WikiTwister.)

Yesterday I tried connecting Gossip Machine to a real news API and the results made me get up and dance, but I did not like the idea of having to manually run my searches every day to see if anything interesting had turned up in one of my topics.

So I turned my program into Google Apps Script and added it to a Google Sheet. Now every morning at 9am, GM Monitor will check Wikipedia’s page views of the day before for all the Wikipedia pages in my list. When it finds one with an view increase over a minimum amount, it performs a search of a news API and dockets the results. Then I get an email of everything when it’s finished.

This is going to be VERY useful, but even better it taught me enough about using Google Apps Script and MailApp that I think I can use the same API service to set up some news monitoring tools as Google Alerts gets more and more disappointing. And it won’t cost me a zillion dollars a month, either! Take that, Talkwalker! 😂

A screenshot of an email from GM Monitor. It shows three example Wikipedia topics: geothermal power, Tony Evers, and Caitlin Clark. The last topic, Caitlin Clark, lists two related news articles.
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