With the current surge of artificial writing tools, what value do human writers bring to their work?
Writing has always existed in a zone of both personal and impersonal. When done by a skilled writer reading a piece can evoke all sorts of emotions or convey all kinds of information but because there’s no voice or face behind those words, sometimes we can feel disconnected from the authors we read the work.
In the digital age this disconnection feels as though it’s ramping up, especially as writing AIs begin to enter the market but is there still value in the human touch when it comes to digital writing?
Well as a digital writer myself, I have to hope so.
Though many pieces of online writing are standalone works, consistency for a writer or website is still very desirable. Every writer has a series of unconscious biases and habits that make up their instinctual authorial voice. This voice can be hard to pin down, especially in informative or marketing pieces but it is present in everything a writer writes. Readers pick up on that voice and will gravitate to authors that have a voice that resonates with them.
A site that has a number of articles written by the same person will have an authentic consistency that’s exceedingly hard to replicate. So much of the internet is full of misinformation, anything that suggests authenticity and a real person behind the screen is invaluable.
Consistency is a staple of effective branding, regardless. In any case, no matter the quality of work, inconsistency leads to a lack of trust. In realms that rely on opinion this is felt the most, for reviewers and essayists their consistency of not only quality but voice is their entire brand, but it affects all online writers.
And for regional sites that human element is even easier to see at work. If you’re marketing in Melbourne it makes sense to hire an online marketing agency in Melbourne, why? Because they will have writers who naturally have the effect of someone who lives in the area, which makes posts feel more genuine. That local knowledge is invaluable in many cases, and that information can in some ways be reproduced if enough research is done, but it’s just more effective and efficient to hire someone who doesn’t need to be taught.
‘Parasocial’ has become a bit of a buzzword in recent months but that is for a good reason. That connection between creator and fan is a very unique one, and there are a lot of downfalls to investing too much of yourself into them.
But they have their upsides too, and they’re proof that there doesn’t need to be any direct interaction for people to form a bond between themselves and the media they engage in online. This effect is more profound with creators who open themselves up to that level of connection, like vloggers but it’s real for online authors as well.
There’s a connection that comes from seeing another person’s personality come out in the way they write, even if it isn’t as profound as the deep relationship that forms with a favourite celebrity or activist you look up to, that connection with a preferred reporter, tech guru or recipe maker is just as real and part of what makes browsing sites fun.
Trust and Accountability
That human connection creates trust, we are already wary of people with hidden agendas, and there’s even less reason to trust what you read when there isn’t a person behind it, either because it was written by a program or the writer was forced to scrub away any suggestion of their personality to fit a brief.
Having a flair in your writing style isn’t just an artistic choice, it’s a utilitarian tool. Your personality is what makes a piece captivating to read, we’ve all had our eyes roll right off of overly dry textbooks. Personality is what makes writing accessible to wider audiences.
Ultimately current AI isn’t actually intelligent, while they are incredibly useful tools they have no mind to be able to write with intentionality. An AI won’t have the consistent quirks a human writer naturally has and if humans are good at anything it’s recognising other people, our built-in genius for recognising humanity is why we have the uncanny valley effect.
AI has its place, as any tool does, but it can’t replace human connection and why would we want them to? The internet is an incredible invention because of its ability to connect people across the globe with each other. We’re wasting the full potential of what the internet can be if we withdraw from other people simply because we can. Though you might have to forgive my bias on this one.