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Behind the Scenes – Feb 7, 2023

jtop screen shot

jtop tool in action

Back in the saddle again!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on bringing the website into modern times. It’s been a bit of a challenge. But it is much easier now to manage the content on the website. It is time to turn attention to the YouTube channel.

Running a publishing empire can be a little time consuming.

As is the JetsonHacks tradition, we create an article and a video for the subject at hand. My intent was to create a short video with a little bit of a longer article. The particular subject is jtop, which is a performance monitoring tool.

Different Methodology

One thing I have been experimenting with and trying to wrap my head around is what are now called “AI Tools”. This includes ChatGPT and the Hemingway Editor, to name a few. Specifically I want to know how to best leverage these tools to help generate the best content. It’s what our community members deserve.

Now, a lot of people are trying to generate content automagically for dirty, filthy lucre. That’s not particularly interesting, as there is no “value add” to this equation. In other words, anyone (everyone) with access to ChatGPT could generate the same or very similar article. And ultimately no one is going to read those types of articles just to click through ads. It may work for a while, or at least until the AI content police crack down.

You could make the case that someone who has a talent in “prompt engineering” may be able to generate better stories through ChatGPT. That’s fair, but to be clear that’s not expert content. You need someone to be the “bullshit” filter at the other end.

AI as an assistant

With that said, there are a bunch of ways that an AI can help write better articles. I’ve been writing on this website for 9 years, but still have trouble in a couple of areas. I tend to write with a “passive voice”. For example, “The ball is being chased by the dog.” It is more interesting to read an “active voice”. Such as, “The dog chases the ball.” This usually has to do with the use of verb tense and sentence structure. With an AI assistant, I can have it “proof read” an article to tell me where passive voice is in use. I can then ask the AI assistant to suggest a more active voice version.

This may have to do with how I write articles at a higher level. But that’s for another day.

Another helpful tool is simplification. Even though the website is technical in nature, I try to keep the articles at a tenth grade reading level. There are several keys for determining the level, just one of them being sentence length. The AI assistant can rate the reading level. Another useful feature is to suggest how to fix complex sentences. Once or twice an article I’ll write something that is the equivalent of a roundabout or knot. The AI helps straighten that out.

Help generate subtitles

For the blog and articles, it’s great to have suggestions for the different headers. ChatGPT, for example, has a pretty good understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) concepts. It can use this knowledge to generate catchy titles. The titles can be cheesy at times, but it makes it easier to come up with something enticing. As an example, for this blog post ChatGPT generates:

  1. “Getting Back in the Game: Updating Our Website for the Modern Era”
  2. “Managing a Publishing Empire: Balancing Work and Play”
  3. “The JetsonHacks Tradition Continues: Introducing jtop Performance Monitoring Tool”
  4. “Exploring AI Tools for Content Creation: ChatGPT and Hemingway Editor”
  5. “The Pros and Cons of Automated Content Generation”
  6. “Leveraging AI Assistance for Writing: Improving Active Voice and Simplifying Sentences”
  7. “Maximizing SEO with AI-Generated Headers”
  8. “The Learning Curve of AI Tools: Balancing Time Investment and Time Savings”
  9. “From Passive to Active: Using AI to Improve Writing Voice”
  10. “Untangling Complex Sentences with AI Assistance: Simplifying Your Writing Style”.

These are titles I could not come with on my own. Some make sense, others not so much. Some are a little over the top, or don’t convey the tone I’m looking for. But reading a few hundred (thousand?) of them should help me be more creative in this area.

The way forward

There are AI tools which help you become a better writer. But the tools tend to be rather passive. Write something, it gets a grade along with a few suggestions. By making the process more dynamic and interactive, it might be more educational and engaging.

I’m not looking to change my “voice” or “style”. Just a little clean up here and there. One interesting experiment was to have ChatGPT analyze my writing style, and then set that as a prompt to write a paragraph or two. Just to have an analysis my “style” is interesting in and of itself.

Time savings?

Performing this little experiment, it took me about 40% longer to generate an article and video than usual. Part of that is trying to figure out how to integrate the AI part into the workflow. The second part is spent trying to understand “better”. It feels like the article flows better than usual, but I won’t be able to tell until I have a bigger sample size.

At the same time, I am developing a better feel for “active voice” writing. Which means I tend to have less passive voice passages that need to be rewritten. Which will save time in the long run.

Tools. They always take time to learn to use well. Complicated tools? Even more. Big tools, big boy toys.

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