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Moving beyond the Microsoft monoculture

“For the last 15 years we have been living in a Microsoft
monoculture, which has had very real knock-on consequences for
everyone online – not just for users of its products. Today,
though, that monoculture is fading away, to be replaced by
something much more complex.

“It’s the end of an era — for UK journalists, at least. Thanks
to the clever new site called churnalism.com, it will be possible
for readers of mainstream news sites to check whether the article
they are reading is simply a re-hashed press release. As the site’s
FAQ explains:

“The site compresses all articles published on national
newspaper websites, on BBC news, and Sky news online, into a series
of numbers based on 15 character strings (using a hash function)
and then stores them in a fast access database. When someone pastes
in some text and clicks ‘compare’, the churn engine compresses the
text entered and then searches for similar compressions (or ‘common
hashes’). If the engine finds any articles where the similarity is
greater than 20%, then it suggests the article may be churn.”


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