Machine learning and units of measurement can affect your content

“OK, Google, how long does it take to blanch broccoli?”

“For florets that are approximately 1 1/2 across, cook for about three minutes”

Google’s voice AI ignored the inch mark. As I was breaking up my broccoli for lunch, I looked on my phone’s screen and confirmed the inch marker was there.

Google Now's results for blanching broccoli. The audio interface left out the inch mark
Google Now’s results for blanching broccoli. The audio interface left out the inch mark

Google’s job is to index the web – your CMS’s search engine’s job is to index your content. How does your content look in your search results? Do your users know if what you wrote answers their question? Almost as important, do you know if what you wrote answers your users’ questions? Can your users get those answers how and where they need it?

Sure, Google can do a better job of recognizing the quotation mark here is actually an inch marker. The US could also convert to the metric system (currently very unlikely), and do away with inches (‘) and feet (“). However, this case highlights how things can be interpreted – and misinterpreted – in our content. In the online content community, we need to be aware how our content is being interpreted across all devices, and audio and video, and create accordingly.

Finally, WikiHow’s three-minute blanching time is correct. I cooked for three-and-a-half minutes and the broccoli came out a bit too soggy.

 

2 thoughts on “Machine learning and units of measurement can affect your content”

  1. For “… how the content is being ‘indexed’ by Google, and it is interpreted across all devices, and audio and video…”

    This is where structured and semantic content plays such an important role.
    – Structured for right metadata (findability and contextual)
    – Semantic for making it relevant and meaningful for machines too

  2. Absolutely agree, Vinish. I’m very happy that we are using metadata in our DITA workflow. Managers appreciate that, using metadata, we embed governance information – owner, author, date published, etc. – directly on each page.

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