As experiments with artificial intelligence go, making a magical typewriter that collaborates on fairy tales probably wouldn’t be your first idea. That’s just what Mercedes-Benz have made, however, as part of a demonstration of the power of AI. The result is both very “Harry Potter” and very cool.
It’s the handiwork of a team at the Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Center of North America, in Sunnyvale California. Usually, the engineers and programmers there are working on new infotainment designs, smarter dashboards which can predict where you might want to go and how hot you want the cabin to be, and integration with things like Google Home and Apple Watch.
To put a new artificial intelligence through its paces, though, they turned to a more entertaining concept. While this might look like an old-fashioned typewriter, and indeed operates as one, it also has a mind of its own.
They taught it very little to start with, basically that it should build up a text character by character. Then they fed it with a stack of old Brothers Grimm fairytales. The Ai doesn’t really know it’s writing a story, but it does know to take a prompt typed from a human and then interact with the story.
In practice, it means you type a few sentences and then pause, only to have the typewriter itself pick up the thread and add its own twist to the tale. Nothing is pre-programmed, with the artificial intelligence instead analyzing what its human co-author has written and attempting to come up with something that fits thematically.
As for the eye-catching typewriter design, while the Mercedes team could’ve had the whole thing working on a laptop display, the feeling was that this fit better with the gothic atmosphere of classically creepy fairy tales. The keys themselves are linked by cables to individual actuators, which pull them down to type. The engineers conceded that an electric typewriter mechanism would’ve been a whole lot easier to work with – you have to clear the occasional jam, just like in the old days – but then you wouldn’t have quite the same charm.
The stories themselves aren’t going to win any book awards for great literature, but the AI does a surprisingly good job of picking out characters, items, and topics introduced by human authors and taking those forward as it develops the tale. Fed with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek range of characters including a bear and an Uber, it managed to cling to its fairytale theme.
Of course, Mercedes isn’t planning to get into the ebook business. The automaker’s real goal is using artificial intelligence’s like these to build self-driving cars that can monitor the road around it for other traffic, pedestrians, and potential obstacles, and adapt in real-time rather than needing programming for every situation. Being able to react to unpredictable human drivers and pedestrians, not to mention changeable weather conditions, would give an autonomous vehicle an edge that even years of traditional engineering couldn’t achieve.
** This post first appeared on Slashgear.com on December 12, 2016 and written by Chris Davies. All images and the video are from the original post.
Whether you blog to share your experiences or to promote your business, blogging is the best way to connect with the outer world.
But blogging is definitely much more than writing.The work does not end when you hit publish. You should be able to attract your readers time and time again to your site, and keep them engaged.
Are you ever worried about maintaining an engaged blog audience?
It all starts with detailed research and using the right blogging tools.
Here is the deal: Tools alone won’t solve your problems, but they will help you get things done more efficiently.
With that being said, I have compiled a list of 21 free blogging tools that you can start using today. These tools are a great way to improve your performance as a blogger, in terms of workflow, writing quality and visuals.
A perfect topic can make or break your content workflow
It doesn’t matter how great you are at writing, every now and then you will fall into a blogger’s pit AKA blogger’s block.
According to Allee Creative, producing enough content and content that engages, are the two most difficult struggles that over 50% of B2B marketers face.
Creating enough content is proportional to blog topic ideas. If you can’t find topics to write about, you can’t fill up the content calendar.
These are the tools that will you help find blog topics every day.
It breaks down keyword listings to three different parts:
- Question: what, who, when, why?
- Preposition: for, like, with
- Alphabetical: keyword + a, keyword + b
With this tool, you can also get a ton of LSI keywords that you can easily sprinkle throughout your post.
It gives a list of posts that have got maximum amount of shares in a given period. This way you know the potential of the topic.
It’s easy to use interface is one of its many benefits that makes it one of my favorite tools. Not only does it hook you up with great data, it binds you to topical relevance. So, you don’t go off topic when searching for ideas.
Just looking at the above topics you can easily tell that list posts are the ones that get the most social love.
Can you do better than that?
In order to use this incredibly powerful keyword research tool, first of all you need to get an AdWords account. And then, you can start the journey to find the right keywords for your business.
Google Keyword Planner might not give you the exact keyword suggestions, but it surely gives you a pretty good number of variations to your keywords, followed by average monthly searches, level of competition (high, medium, or low), average cost per click, and much more.
Effective tip: You can find more blogging ideas by putting your competitor’s url into keyword planner’s landing page search box.
How can I leave out one of the most versatile tools, Google Trends?
Google Trends displays a list of the top hot searches and charts of the day. You can also see searches by category.
Like other keyword research tools, Google Trends does not give you the actual keyword search number. But, it does not mean that it is completely useless. You need to be smart here and use this tool with the Keyword Planner tool to get the best results.
Rule content marketing by writing captivating headlines
Headlines are the bread and butter of great content. A great headline not only grabs a reader’s attention, it’s the main source of increasing click through rate from organic traffic.
According to a test done by Koechly at Upworthy, traffic varies up to 500% depending upon your headline.
Whether you need to engage your audience on social media, or increase the open rate of your emails, a magnetic headline carries a heavy load.
Here are the free blogging tools that can help you write enticing headlines.
Impact blog title generator is a great tool for quickly coming up with blog ideas and titles. Just like any other headline generator, you need to type in your primary keyword. It will then pull out hundreds of enticing title options that you can use.
Hit the heart button if you like any given titles. It will then be transferred to a notebook which you can email later.
One of the creative and fun ways of dealing with writer’s block in this tool is the writer’s block option. Click it and start doodling.
You can simply type in your keyword and get a bunch of blog ideas (it has its own pre-decided keyword categories).
Then, it pulls out a list of easy to use headlines. You can also modify it so that it looks more convincing.
To get more blog ideas, you have to put in your email. And, it will send the list directly to your inbox.
Recommended for You Webcast, December 14th: Measuring Micro-Moments With Google Analytics
This is not a fancy tool with flashy visuals. However, as the name suggests it gets the job done. As a marketer, we need a headline that entices users to click.
Basically it pulls in headlines that can be a little buzzfeed-esque and targets click bait. If you are a blogger in an entertainment niche, you will fall in love with this tool. Some suggestions might be really insane but it gets the job done.
According to Psychology Today, consumer decision making is highly influenced by emotion. With this tool you can check the emotion weight of your desired headlines.
Although it’s not as colorful as the other tools in the market, it is easy to use and works perfectly. All you have to do is plug in the headline and choose an appropriate category. You will receive an EMV score that defines the emotional credibility of your headline.
37.50% may look bad as a number. But if you look closely, anything above 50% is considered the best. So, if you have anything within that range, you are doing great.
Add a touch of image beauty to make your blog attractive
Photos play an important role in making your blog visually stunning. If you have photography talent along with your writing skill, then trust me, you don’t need anything else.
The right post with the right photo is what audiences are looking for. But, in many cases, a blogger ignores the fact that images are an important component to user engagement and messes up with cheap stock images.
One case study states that a tweet with an image is likely to boost retweets by 35 percent.
Here is a list of awesome tools that I use to flood my post with top-notch free images.
Finding free high quality images that perfectly match your blog content can be a challenging and daunting task. To help you with your free stock photo hunt, Pixabay offers millions of high quality images free.
Pixabay is a resource created with no copyright restrictions. You can use the images for whatever purposes you want, even for commercial purposes too.
A great thing about Pixabay is that there is no registration required. You can simply jump in, find photos and begin to use them.
Are you fed up with visiting websites in search of free stock photos? Well, here’s a solution for your problem.
Death to the Stock Photo sends you free high resolution photos of different categories to your email every month. All you need to do is submit an email address where you want to receive those images. Amazing, right?
Now, you can make your blog posts livelier and more visually appealing with the high quality resolution images that you receive from Death to the Stock Photo.
One of the best ways to grab images is through screenshots. And, one of the best tools in the market to do that is Evernote. It not only gives you sleek and clean graphics, it organizes your images in a proper format.
First go to evernote and sign up for a free account. Then, download it’s free chrome plugin. Now, whenever you need to take a screenshot, click the little elephant icon in the top right hand corner. You can select the part and save it. It automatically gets saved in your evernote account.
You can use this fantastic photo editing tool without downloading it to your computer.
With its awesome photo edit, touch up, design and collage features, you have got everything that you need to make your ideas come to life.
PicMonkey also publishes awesome guides to help you create your own visually attractive images. So, if you are an amateur designer and don’t have good experience with editing tools, then PicMonkey is what you need to have.
Canva is one of the most used photo editing tools in the world. From its drag and drop feature, the professional layouts and amazing design graphics, Canva has everything that you need for creating your own stunning images.
Whether you are an experienced designer or just a beginner, Canva makes image creation super easy and fun.
With millions of images, hundreds of fonts, numbers of free icons and shapes, and amazing photo filters; Canva is without a doubt the most loved photo editing tool online.
Make writing faster and easier
Anyone can write a blog, but only an experienced and skilled blogger can write an extraordinary piece of content that offers valuable insights and attracts user engagement.
There are millions of amazing blog posts uploaded every second, which grab people’s attention and compel them to share on social media channels. If you want your content to receive such attention from readers, then you need to write amazing and original content.
Do you have a favorite blogging tool that helps you with this?
There are tons of writing tools available online and choosing the right one definitely takes lots of your time and effort. Here are a few tools that can help you with easy and fast writing.
14. Google Docs
Many bloggers use their blogging platform to write and edit their content. But, are you aware of the blog editing and posting features of Google Docs?
Yes, you heard me correctly. Google Docs can be used as a blog editor and you can post your blog entries directly from it.
Google Docs is my favorite blog editor. It allows you to collaborate with others and its amazing spelling and grammar checking tools are worth trying. Being a product of Google itself, you can directly research your queries from it.
Readable is one of the most interesting free blogging tools, which quickly analyzes your text for readability. This awesome tool takes your text and analyzes it by giving it a score for the most used readability indicators. So, your text is easier to understand.
It gives you flexible options to carry out a test; test by url, test by directly entering your text, and test by entering a referral link.
Posts with many grammar errors can make a reader lose interest in reading further. They might not even bother reading your future blog posts. So, make sure to perform grammar checks before publishing your blog.
Grammarly is one of the most used online grammar checkers. It checks for spelling, sentence structure, style, punctuation, alternatives, etc. All you need to do is copy your content and paste it into Grammarly’s online grammar checker.
You can add this tool to your chrome browser and easily use it whenever you need to.
Get more engagement on social media
You just published a post, and you immediately share it to your social accounts. What you see after a few days rattles you.
Only a couple of people have engaged with your post. Sounds familiar?
One of the many reasons why you aren’t seeing any engagement on social media is because you are not doing it right.
For example, your preferred audience may be in a different time zone than yours. The frequency and timing of your post depends completely on the industry and brands.
You can take something from what the big brands do. Every brand has a different set of times to post on Facebook, Twitter or share it on other social accounts. Always check the analytics of your social account to get a better grip of your audience.
After you know the best time, you can schedule your post with these tools and save time.
Buffer has to be one of the most efficient social media management tools I have ever used. Even though Hootsuite has more supported networks, and is bigger than Buffer, I feel Buffer is easier to use.
Just like any content scheduling tool, you can easily integrate your social media accounts and start scheduling your posts. It also gives you a brief analysis that lets you A/B test your headline versions.
Pinterest can been a great source of traffic for many bloggers. Unfortunately, if you aren’t using the paid version, it’s not possible to schedule Pinterest pins from Buffer.
Out comes Ahalogy to solve this problem. You can easily schedule all your pins to your personal and community boards.
However, the catch is you have to get accepted by Ahalogy to start using it.
Once you get accepted, you have to place a code to track your results. If this is something you don’t want to do, you can download the Ahalogy plugin and it automatically pushes your content to your Pinterest account.
19. Click to tweet
Click to tweet are tweetable quotes that are used widely on numerous blogs. What it basically does is offer more traffic from twitter and gives an easy one click path for the user to share your content.
Working with click to tweet is really simple. All you need to do is sign up for a free account. On your dashboard, you can type in the message you would like to tweet. Then, it generates a new line of code. Copy and paste it into the post that you want to display it. You can also see the engagement of your audience and click through rate of that simple tweet button.
Improve your productivity
The tough part after starting a blog is maintaining its quality. If you are a professional blog writer, then you must know how hard it is to write a quality blog with valuable insights at a given time.
Do you want to write better and faster?
There’s a number of free blogging tools that will not only make your writing easier but also help with your time management problem. Check out the time tracking tools listed below which can help you write faster.
20. Egg Timer
Egg Timer is a simple countdown timer, where you can enter the time that you want to work.
As a writer, you must know how easily time goes by once you start writing. You have no idea how much time you are giving to researching your work, editing or writing. With this free time tracking tool, you can find out how productive you are and manage time for each individual task.
To start, set the time for your task, hit the “Go” button to start time tracking. When the time’s up, you will see a pop-up appearing on the screen with the timer sound.
Toggle is a fun time tracking tool which can help boost your productivity.
This one-click time tracking tool allows you to add tasks, and after completing your work, check the dashboard to know how long you spent on each task.
If you are a writer who spends a lot of your time on research and writing, and are looking for a tool that can help you manage your time, Toogle is definitely worth a try.
Track visitors on your site
A thing that separates a good blogger from others is the way he or she keeps monitoring and tracking the web traffic they receive.
Yes, it is true that anyone can write, but not everyone is capable of writing a high quality user engaging blog. The problem seen in most startup bloggers is that they just keep writing blindly. They have no idea whether their blog is getting exposure or not.
To be a good blogger and improve your writing, you should know what is working, and what isn’t, so that you can make improvements.
With so many web traffic analyzer tools available online, you can easily track visitors and traffic to your blog.
Here’s my favorite 2 blog tracking tools:
22. Google Analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is the most popular and most used visitor tracking tool. And yes, it is totally free of cost.
This amazing tool not only gives accurate statistics on traffic, but it also tracks almost everything a cookie can store on each unique visitor. You can also see the live traffic status of your blog through GA.
It provides a variety of features like monitoring visitor’s behavior, source of incoming traffic, social media buttons, number of visitors each day, unique visitors, returning visitors, most visited pages, and much more.
Sitemeter is another great analytics program which I use after Google Analytics. It comes in two versions: Free and Paid. You can simply use the free version as it offers almost all the tools a webmaster needs.
You can keep track of your visitors’ referral information and at the same time also find how many people are online on your blog.
Sitemeter allows you to see some of the most important information regarding your latest referring URLs, live visitors, and visitors from the last 1 hr, day and a week.
Content creation should be the top priority of any blogger. I wish I could tell you that tools alone will make you a better writer, but that’s not true at all.
In fact, there are other key elements and methodologies that you need to implement to produce quality content. However, tools offer additional support and help you get things done more efficiently.
I hope these 23 free blogging tools can help you get through some tough times like they did for me.
** This article first appeared on Business 2 Community on December 12, 2016. Written by