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3 Reasons Tech Writers Are Hesitant About ChatGPT
… and what to focus on instead
… and what to focus on instead
There is more to tech writing that facts and details.
This semester I’m teaching an AI & Digital Storytelling class, but I mostly teach professional writing. The fun part about exploring digital storytelling is that I see how the same AI techniques in storytelling can be used in other professions, like tech writing. One of my goals in this class is to circle back around into professional writing.
Most of my students are first years who know very little about the importance of professional writing in all fields. So most of the semester, we are just having fun telling stories. But what we learn in our play can help us see how important storytelling is in other fields.
So since last week was Spring break, I did little with my AI & storytelling class, but I have started thinking about developing a ChatGPT workshop for tech writers. In fact, I attended the Symposium on Communication Complex Information and shared a bit of my thoughts about how we can integrate AI into the tech writing conference.
Tech Writing Survey
To better understand how tech writers might use ChatGPT, I sent out a survey to a small sample of tech writers. The results provided some valuable insights into how tech writers view ChatGPT.
Less than half the participants had actually used ChatGPT in their work.
Though many thought it was interesting and had seen some potential applications, most of them were indifferent about the tool or still curious about its implications for their work.
In this light, it appears tech writers are likely to be slow adopters of AI in their jobs. However, there are still a few who believe that such tools can make their work easier and more efficient.
There were 3 basic for this hesitance:
Writers cannot use company data with ChatGPT for privacy and ownership reasons.
Writers don’t trust ChatGPT to give accurate or useful information, especially for their specialized domains.
Even using it to simplify language often introduces new, inaccurate information.
In short, tech writers can’t really trust ChatGPT to generate accurate and concise content for the kinds of work they do. Likely, AI would work better for tech writers with some training, but is difficult to do this with ChatGPT without violating privacy policies.
For something like ChatGPT to work, tech writers need to access the data relevant for their projects and audiences that can safely train their AI tools. Or new tools need developed that ensure privacy. I’m sure someone will solve that problem at some point, but for now the use of ChatGPT will most likely be restricted to ideation and invention … coming up with new ideas.
Focus on Invention
So I am focusing my upcoming workshop on this aspect of AI and the writing process. For example, I’ve recently experimented with using ChatGPT to produce personas and re-write text in plain english.
I also wonder if focusing on editing tools, rather than text generators might be more helpful for tech writers. If used correctly, AI writing tools can simplify existing language without introducing new information. I would be very interested in seeing a tool like Soduwrite for tech writers.
So I don’t think ChatGPT is the AI writing tool for professional use. The release of ChatGPT’s API, though, promises a wide range of tools that might be more applicable in tech writing settings. I’m sure there is more to come!
If any of you have thought more about this, I would love to hear about it.
To extend the conversation, I am inviting anyone interested in tech writing to fill out the tech writer survey or share it with others who might be interested.
In the meantime, I’m continuing to explore the potential uses of ChatGPT in storytelling. Coming up, I’ll be taking a deep-dive into dialogue.
Teaching AI is now a part of every teacher’s job … which only adds to our workload. I’m currently gathering a group of teachers who are interested in sharing that workload in creative ways. If you are interested in beta testing the space, check out this page.
This will be a place where we can share our expertise and experience … and cut down on the workload of keeping up with the exponential rise in AI technologies in ways that will help our students become more creative thinkers and writers.