Doug Never Says Anything

and with this utility, you can get to the point quicker!

The web resource Summarity is “Software that Summarizes”.  The premise is pretty simple.  Select some text, paste it to Summarity and let it do its thing.

Its thing is to analyse your content and summarize it to save you reading the entire content.  So, I decided to put it to the test.  I went back to my blog post about my first look at the Apple iOS 4.2, copied all of the text, pasted it into the entry box and asked Summarity to summarize it for me.  The result?

That’s kind of cool.  Plus, once you do get a summary, you can adjust the shrinkage factor to give more verbose or shorter results.  Ever looking for the educational angle, I turn to literacy and one of the important concepts is having students learn to summarize a piece of reading.  Using Summarity might well be an engaging hook to compare a computer generated summary with one that’s done manually.

But, there’s another component to this resource that I find even more helpful.  It’s called Skim Mode.  With Skim Mode, it’s like a computer generated highlighter where the Summarity highlights by making the phrases that it deems important become bold.

This feature, I find really interesting.  Just like the process of reading text and identifying the salient points, you can focus on the highlights, but also still read about it to put the reading in context.

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog and want me to get to the point — just summarize my entry and get to it!

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8 thoughts on “Doug Never Says Anything

  1. Hi Doug,

    I will admit to not having given Summarity much of a look yet. I’ve seen a number of such approaches (a similar feature in Premiere Assistive, for example), and I am intrigued by the claim that software might somehow be able to summarize a passage of text. But I’m not convinced that the tech has reached the point where it can accurately summarize without losing context and meaning. I find the feature which places the summary text in bold to be a good starting point for analysis — it allows you to compare the meaning of the stand-alone excerpt with its actual meaning in context. The first two sentences of the summary above, for example, are counterpoint in their intent (“frustrated,” “stopped working,”) and completely escape mention of the key idea of the post — that Apple has released a new iOS update with new features. It may be that the software keys off of words that signal a change in direction of thought — thinking that each time direction changes, a new point is being made.

    It would be interesting to contrive a piece of text with the express purpose of unpacking the methodology behind such a utility. Certainly an interesting exercise for someone with a bit of time and inclination …

    😉

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  2. For those of you without a lot of time on your hands, here is a summary of Doug’s post above:

    The web resource Summarity is “Software that Summarizes”. Its thing is to analyse your content and summarize it to save you reading the entire content. Plus, once you do get a summary, you can adjust the shrinkage factor to give more verbose or shorter results. Ever looking for the educational angle, I turn to literacy and one of the important concepts is having students learn to summarize a piece of reading. Using Summarity might well be an engaging hook to compare a computer generated summary with one that’s done manually. Just like the process of reading text and identifying the salient points, you can focus on the highlights, but also still read about it to put the reading in context. So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog and want me to get to the point — just summarize my entry and get to it! 🙂

    (0.45 factor; anything less lost too many details)

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  3. Cyndie Jacobs says:

    Actually, the title of this blog is the catch: it infers that either you are non-communicative or that what you do ‘say’ has little value for your audience. Nothing could be further from the truth – on either count. When you blog, I read and enjoy what you write/say (if I understand it technically!) Great tool you have demonstrated and brilliant hook for us, your readers!

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  4. Good point, Andy, but I don’t think that any of these things should be taken as the only solution. Creating summaries are important and yet should be personalized to be of value. What I like about this as a concept is that it allows for a concrete modeling of how it might work. As they say, your mileage may vary.

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  5. Peter, I’ll bet that many of your students already know of this or similar sites. Plus, Premier Assistive seems to be gaining a lot of ground in schools. Maybe this as an assessment activity needs to be scaffolded. In Computer Science, there’s a lot of technical reading that could use this as a starting point.

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  6. Thanks for the kind comment, Cyndie. It’s all in the marketing, after all! I really do see all kinds of possibilities for this in the classroom. As Andy notes, all of these things should be used within a proper context. I really do appreciate the fact that you folks drop by to read my silliness. I really enjoy continually learning on my own terms and sharing the ride.

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