It was one of the biggest pieces of tech news to wrap 2022. For the uninitiated, here’s a strong explainer from Forbes, along with a link directly to ChatGPT via OpenAI.
ChatGPT has been a catalyst for bigger conversations around:
- Authenticity: who actually wrote this?
- Autonomy: who’s in charge here, human or machine?
- Authorship: are you really a creative professional, or do you just have a butler-bot to write clever things for you?
*Key disclaimer (because you’ll start to need to hear this more often in the future): ChatGPT was not used in the creation of this article.
The depth of recall, conversational tone, and rapid productivity demonstrated in just a few minutes of prodding are sparking controversy over how content creation, ideation, and even training models will change.
More About the Chatbot in Question
ChatGPT (short for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an AI-powered chatbot developed by OpenAI. Launched in November 2022, it has quickly gained widespread attention for its ability to answer questions in well-crafted detail and conversational tone, as well as being able to write essays, mimic famous authors, and code software.
In the months since its launch, ChatGPT has been equally lauded as a game-changing research tool and criticized for its implications for plagiarism. It has already been listed as a co-author in several academic publications, prompting a backlash from some scientists, while the University of Hong Kong took the step of banning it outright.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Understandably, there’s concern around the ethics of AI-generated insights, the innate bias represented by data sources, and the new definitions of plagiarism that are going to be redefined.
One of the biggest questions and critiques around AI conversation is coming from the space of authenticity: who really wrote this? If you present ChatGPT-generated content as your own, is it plagiarism? To what level is it inauthentic?
There's an analogy that we can learn from here – we can look at how we got right with creating content with search engines as a useful analog for how we’ll ‘get right’ with AI content.
Authenticity: Prompting with Purpose
As source information became accessible through a simple search, a content creator’s dependency on their own innate subject matter understanding became deprecated—or so it seemed. We still held tight to the notion that experts would still create the best content while maligned writers cobbled their sources together from quick Google searches.
We all know how that turned out. The skill of how to prompt a search to get diverse, thoughtful, useful background information became one of the most important skills of content creators.
The game is no longer to be an expert in a chosen topic. You need to be equipped to prompt a search engine for the right context.
As it stands now, we’re in a moment of needing to reinterpret our previous answer to this problem: the best creators will become skilled in how they prompt tools like ChatGPT. For example, prompting with “List 5 ways to dominate SEO for my brewery” won’t get you the strongest content unless you follow it up with continuous, probing prompts that seek increasing clarity and specificity.
Essentially, content creators are still the leaders of catalyzing good content, but they'll need to lean harder on their skills as researchers with a knack for asking critical questions.
Authorship: We Edited Our Way Forward
Over the years, as Google-assisted writing grew, the seeming threat of plagiarism grew with it. High school essays are subjected to plagiarism-checker apps searching for sentence fragments appearing across the web. Creators are continuously shoulder-checked for originality.
While outright plagiarism should always be called out, there is a subtle line of which the right side is the meaningful ingestion of source content to present something new. Or at least, old content in a new, relevant, valuable way.
Where plagiarism is outright re-presentation of material, iterative content creation is the artful recombination of material to shape a new comment. The difference is the value of effective editing.
Content creators learned this new skill quickly to avoid the looming threats of web plagiarism: prompt your search, collect your sources, give credit where credit is due, then ply your trade as an editor.
Now, even more than before, a creator’s ability to edit becomes our most valuable skill and differentiator. With source material, generative AI, and moderately thoughtful tone mimicry, it will be the ability of human intervention to edit bland or repetitive content into strong prose that sets you apart.
Autonomy: Content Creators Becoming Curators
Raise your hand if your browser bookmarks bar is littered with links to articles and papers you came across over the years and thought “I bet I’ll need this eventually.”
We all do it. We’re all curators of our own content feeds. Whether you use aggregator tools like Feedly, old-school RSS setups, or the pure browse-click-bookmark approach, you’re constantly assembling your own personal cheatsheet of guides, deepdives, and reflections on the topics you engage with daily. We do this partly out of a desire to have useful content at our fingertips, and partly perhaps as a way to feel engaged with what can be an overwhelming scape of content to sort through.
Ultimately, we’ve built a core skill set into our workflows to take advantage of the plethora of information available. We can’t always dedicate the time to closely read every relevant article we see, but we can recognize the signals of competence and mark them for eventual reading and integrating.
In many ways, part of our strength as creators come from the quality of our individually-curated content libraries.
Everyone will have their own AI-generated scripts, templates, and guides—each a bit different than the other, thanks to good prompting. You now need to apply your skills as a curator to build up your own playbook: your best prompts, your best generated content, and your best templates.
Not a bit of this conversation is brand new. Like most content out there, it’s just branded a little differently.