Hi. This is an old, unmaintained blog. You may find these sites more to your liking:

Carson Brackney: This is my primary site.

Ad Astra Traffic: Content production/article writing service.

Ad Astra Traffic Team: For those who'd like to get writing gigs with Ad Astra.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Instant article ghost writer...More robotic competition?

Not long ago, I looked at article generating software, particularly Articlebot, and determined that the nature of the technology and its intended purposes probably prevented it from having a substantial impact on content writers.

Articlebot, you'll recall, takes an already-written article and "spins" it into as many "new" versions as one might need.

Yesterday, I learned about a new entry into the content production software field, Jon Leger's Instant Article Ghostwriter. For human authors, the name itself is ominous!

This software allows users to input keywords and will then scour the inernet for individual sentences utilizing those indicated keywords. It then assists in organizing those individual sentences. The user can then pore through the results and construct an article based on the gathered sentences.

The program's website offers a video tutorial that shows the software in action.

After watching the video, I determined that this software is not a real threat to human content writers. Here's why:

First, the end results don't seem overwhelmingly impressive. Even the article featured in the video tutorial fell far short of what most people would expect in an article--particularly for one they planned on using for article repository submissions.

The final product was not attrocious and actually did manage (after a fair amount of human user intervention) to be somewhat readable. However, it was certainly not what one would consider a "great article."

That's not surprising, really. Instant Article Ghostwriter is taking a series of individual sentences from a variety of works written by a slew of different authors and then combining them. You don't expect Booker Prize winning text to come out of that recipe, right?

Second, the software itself requires a fair amount of effort from the user. The site touts Instant Article Ghostwriter as being able to produce an article in less than a half hour. Based on the tutorial example, I would say the 400-500 word sample probably took the user (who is also the programmer's designer) around twenty minutes from top to bottom.

Let's assume a webmaster values his or her time to some extent. How much is a half-hour worth? My guess is that most webmasters would say that half hour is worth more than what it would have cost to pay you or me to write a 500 page article.

If they don't value their time that much, they probably aren't part of the content buying market anyway.

So, I have to wonder why anyone would pay for software that allowed them to produce less than stellar articles at a rate of one per half-hour. Alternatively, they could hire a pro, spend their time on something more lucrative, avoid the software cost altogether and end up with articles that aren't a concocted mish-mash of sentences.

There is a risk to human writers as these alternatives are developed. Eventually, the software will begin to catch up with writers enough that the quality distinction will be too minimal to justify an increased expense. Once the software packages can produce good enough material at a rate that beats outsourcing (and doesn't require significant user effort), we content writers might be in trouble.

Instant Article Ghostwriter might be a step in that direction. However, it does not currently pose a significant threat to human writers at all. In fact, I like the idea of being able to compare and contrast what a content writer can do vs. the automated alternative. The differences (both in terms of efficiency and quality) are so great that it makes "the real deal" even more attractive.