Randall Stross, "When the Software Is the Sportswriter", NYT 11/27/2010:
ONLY human writers can distill a heap of sports statistics into a compelling story. Or so we human writers like to think.
StatSheet, a Durham, N.C., company that serves up sports statistics in monster-size portions, thinks otherwise. The company, with nine employees, is working to endow software with the ability to turn game statistics into articles about college basketball games.
Established in 2007, StatSheet.com provides statistical analysis of college football and basketball, Nascar and other sports. It dices data in more ways than any fan could possibly absorb. But charts, graphs and rankings alone cannot replace words that tell a story. We humans love stories; a craving for narrative seems part of our nature.
This month, StatSheet unveiled StatSheet Network, made up of separate Web sites for each of the 345 N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball teams. Beyond statistics galore, each site has what the company calls “automated content,” stories written entirely by software, including write-ups of the team’s games, past and future. With a joking wink, StatSheet’s founder, Robbie Allen, refers to these sites as the “Robot Army.”
The idea is an old one (e.g. Stephan Kerpedjiev, "Automatic Generation of Multimodal Weather Reports from Datasets", ANLP 1992) but this iteration seems to be quite well done. You can sample the goods at statsheet.com. The page for Penn's basketball team, quakerball.com, is a quick and easy source of information that I may visit from time to time when I've missed a game in person or via other media. I'll be really impressed when they can generate a convincing real-time play-by-play report from the unfolding box score, as radio baseball announcers apparently did in the 1920s.