Discover more from AI Writer World
Welcome to AI Writer World
A new Substack newsletter for writers of all stripes — whether you’re an author, content marketer, journalist, technical writer, or anyone else whose work involves writing.
It’s a new world for writers. Artificial Intelligence is the biggest, most-hyped technology of 2023 — and for good reason. AI is truly disruptive to almost all white-collar industries, but especially professional writers. That’s where AI Writer World, my new Substack newsletter, comes in. My goal is to help writers of all stripes adapt to this profound change; I’ll be tracking AI’s impact across all writing industries, including journalism, book publishing, content marketing and technical writing.
My goal with AI Writer World (AWW) is to show you — the professional writer — how to use AI tools to your advantage. I’ve been a tech blogger for decades now (I started a professional tech blog called ReadWriteWeb in 2003) and one of my maxims is to learn about new technology through a combination of experiment and writing about it. So that’s what I intend to do with AWW. I’ll test all the latest AI writing tools, in a variety of contexts — books, content marketing, journalism, technical writing, and more — and then offer you tips and techniques that I pick up along the way.
What qualifies me to do this? I’ve been a professional writer in several different contexts over my career. I began as a technical writer in the late-90s, then became a tech blogger / journalist (which I still am to this day), I’ve written and published two books (and I’m currently finishing my third — a memoir), and as the owner of a professional blog I did my fair share of content marketing for sponsors (I also helped my current employer, The New Stack, with sponsored content over 2020-21). So I’ve got experience in many different categories of writing, which I will bring to the table with AWW.
Do Writers Really Have to Adapt to AI?
Yes! Let’s face it, anyone who writes for a living is going to have to adapt to the generative AI era. You can fight it if you want, but AI is now powerful enough to generate entire articles, books and other written copy — although without human editing, such content is typically poorly composed and prone to errors. There are signs that AI articles are already flooding the web, including from brand-name news organizations. We need to figure out ways to get human creativity back to the forefront, using AI tools.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some ethical issues with generative AI — including whether their large language models (LLMs) were trained on copyrighted content from human writers. But like it or not, AI is here to stay and is already disrupting our jobs. In my view, we need to figure out how to adapt; and I don’t think it’s a case of "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” I think the human element of professional writing is still key. Indeed, the human touch is needed more than ever now that the web is being inundated with bland AI-generated articles.
So what to do, if you’re a professional writer? I’m convinced you’ll need to learn to use AI tools effectively — and wisely — to take your writing game to the next level. Because what’s going to compete with AI-generated articles? I’ll tell you what: AI-assisted articles. Here’s the motto I’m going to follow:
Let the AI help you write, but always remember that you’re still in charge.
So with my AWW newsletter, my goal is to help you learn how to become an AI-assisted writer (although I prefer the term augmented writer).
What You Can Expect as a Subscriber
First and foremost, AI Writer World will be a newsletter tracking the latest in AI writing tools and techniques. If you're a journalist, content marketer, author, technical writer, or anyone whose work involves writing, this newsletter is for you. Or maybe you’re just curious about how AI is changing the writing and content creation industries — I hope you’ll find AWW useful and inspiring as well.
Format: this will evolve over time, but initially you can expect one main story per post, along with curated links to news and other external content. Currently I’ve categorized my link sections as “Product News,” “Perspectives” and “Reference”. Check out the links below to see what I mean.
Frequency: to begin with, I’ll post one edition per week. In future, if AWW gains traction and forms a community, I may increase this. The ultimate goal for me, of course, would be to turn AWW into a subscription newsletter — but I know from experience that this will take many months to achieve. So for the foreseeable future, the newsletter will be free (and if/when I charge for it, there will still be a good amount of content that remains free).
Subscribe to receive AI Writer World posts.
Ok, let’s get to the week’s AI writing news and other AI-related things you need to know as a professional writer…
Product News ⚒️
OpenAI launches custom instructions “to give you more control over how ChatGPT responds.” An example use case for authors: you can use “character sheets to help ChatGPT maintain consistent understanding of story characters in ongoing interactions.”
Google is rolling out AI features (currently invite-only): “Users in Workspace Labs will have access to the latest AI-assisted writing capabilities in Gmail and Google Docs and we’ll be bringing exciting new features to the program in the coming months.”
Beehiiv, a platform for newsletter writers, has launched AI features like the ability to “change the tone of voice, auto-correct, auto-complete, lengthen, shorten, simplify, and more.”
Website builder Wix has announced a new “AI Site Generator” for content marketers (and others), which includes an auto-text generator. However, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg was somewhat skeptical:
NY Times: Google Tests A.I. Tool That Is Able to Write News Articles; Google is pitching this as “a kind of personal assistant for journalists, automating some tasks to free up time for others.”
The Washington Post: How an AI-written Star Wars story created chaos at Gizmodo; journalists and editors will need to closely vet AI-written stories, argues this WP article, or news orgs will quickly lose trust among their readers.
In announcing its $5 million partnership with Open AI, the American Journalism Project (a “venture philanthropy working to rebuild local news”) highlights what it sees as the benefits of AI for journalists:
Award-winning book cover designer Micaela Alcaino offers “a more optimistic perspective regarding how AI can potentially assist and enhance the work of designers and other professionals in the publishing industry, including Art Directors, Editors, Marketers, and Authors, among others.”
Long-time web developer and author Jeremy Keith accurately punctures the AI hype and advises to “use these tools for inputs, not outputs.”
Media commentator Evan DeSimone has an intriguing prediction: “I think the true media winners in AI will be the ones that are able to leverage more value from their archive using AI, not the ones focused on cutting the cost of content production with generative tools.”
How Is ChatGPT’s Behavior Changing over Time?; researchers from Stanford and UC Berkeley studied how OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 are performing. While more math-focused than writing, the study found that “the performance and behavior of both GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 can vary greatly over time.” The upshot for writers: always monitor the quality of LLMs you use.
Fine-Tuning Language Models for Scientific Writing Support; the main finding from this academic paper is that context matters! “The fine-tuned Sci-BERT, which is pre-trained on a scientific corpus, performed slightly better than BERT with no context. However, with higher context size, BERT consistently yields the best results.”
See you next week, my fellow augmented writers!
Don’t miss the next edition of AI Writer World. Subscribe for free now:
Image credit: Photo by Suzy Hazelwood