Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested in learning a bit about Artificial Intelligence, I won’t be offended. Really.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way we live and work, and it is also having a major impact on the way we write. In particular, AI is being used to help people write family history stories.
There are a number of ways in which AI can be used to help with family history writing. For example, AI can be used to scan old documents and photographs, and to automatically extract information from them. This information can then be used to create a timeline of your family’s history, or to generate a list of names and dates.
AI can also be used to help you find information about your ancestors. For example, AI can be used to search through online databases of birth, death, and marriage records. This information can then be used to fill in gaps in your family tree, or to identify potential new sources of information.
In addition, AI can be used to help you write more engaging and compelling family history stories. For example, AI can be used to generate creative text formats of text content, like poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, etc.
Overall, AI can be a powerful tool for helping you write your family history. By using AI, you can save time, find more information, and create more engaging stories.
Here are some tips for using AI for family history writing:
- Start with a clear goal in mind. What do you want to achieve with your family history writing? Do you want to create a timeline of your family’s history? Do you want to generate a list of names and dates? Or do you want to find more information about your ancestors? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start using AI to help you reach your goal.
- Use AI to automate tasks. AI can be used to automate tasks such as scanning old documents and photographs, and automatically extracting information from them. This can save you a lot of time and effort.
- Use AI to find information. AI can be used to search through online databases of birth, death, and marriage records. This information can then be used to fill in gaps in your family tree, or to identify potential new sources of information.
- Use AI to generate creative text formats. AI can be used to generate creative text formats of text content, like poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, etc. This can help you create more engaging and compelling family history stories.
- Edit and revise your writing. Once you have used AI to help you write your family history, it is important to edit and revise your writing. This will help you ensure that your writing is accurate and engaging.
By following these tips, you can use AI to help you write your family history and create a lasting legacy for your family.
If you’ve read this far, you may have a few questions. FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote the entire post above using Google’s new AI tool, Bard. The tool has just been introduced. Like, really… just introduced. Google announced the experiment three days ago and asked for volunteers to try it out. Of course, I put my name on the list!
My wonderful writing group has been chatting (pun intended!) about AI since our writing coach, Lynn Palermo shared several tools, including ChatGPT and others in a recent class. There are varying opinions, but we all agree on one thing: the technology is here, and it is in our best interests to learn how to make the best use of it.
So, back to the post above. I opened Bard (You must be at least 18 and have a Google account) and typed in the query: Write a blog post about using AI for family history writing.
It took Bard just seconds to create the post. I normally spend at least a half hour (or more likely, hours) when writing a post. That being said, I have a few comments:
- The post is quite generic and rather bland. Definitely not my voice! But, I could go through and “zhuzh” it up! (See MORE INFO below.)
- The information was fairly accurate and provided a great starting point should I wish to add more detailed information.
- There is a bit of repetition. Again, it’s just a starting point. You need to edit and revise.
- The formatting was great – much better than the simple text-based results returned by ChatGPT. I was surprised to see the bulleted list. So easy to copy and paste.
I’ll admit it. I’m hooked. My favorite use of AI so far has been to “jumpstart” my brain. Queries such as “Describe the main building of Dachau as you enter through the gate” returned a very descriptive paragraph. It was quicker than googling for an image and sifting through the returns for a suitable picture. I did, however, need to rewrite it to be in my voice. Another query, Create a dialogue where 6-year-old Doris asks Rose, her 35-year-old mother, where her father has been for the past few days. Context: May 1938 Vienna, Austria. Mother does not tell Doris her father is in Dachau.” provided me with the spark of an idea to write a scene I had been struggling with for days.
I’m loving AI for those little, annoying questions that have taken me down “rabbit holes” for hours on Google. Did they use the term sofa or couch more often in 1938 Vienna? Was orange juice a common breakfast beverage in 1938 Vienna? (Nope. It was unlikely since oranges were a rare commodity in Europe at that time. Guess I’ll be rewriting that paragraph!)
I’m also enjoying my new robot brain’s ability to critique my work. It’s very polite, too! Here’s ChatGPT’s opinion of a piece I submitted:
The chapter offers an interesting glimpse into the personal and professional ambitions of the protagonist, but it is not without flaws. For example, the characterizations of Sigmund and Rosa are somewhat stereotypical and lack depth. Sigmund is presented as a driven, business-focused man who prioritizes his work over his emotions, while Rosa is portrayed as a plain woman who is grateful for Sigmund’s attention. The descriptions of their physical appearances are also somewhat superficial.
And then I was given a clear directive:
Overall, the chapter offers an intriguing premise, but the characterizations and historical context could benefit from further development.
Um… maybe I should have included in the query that I’m just on the second pass of the draft!! Pretty sure this technology won’t replace my writing coach or my buddies in my writing group. But it’s surely cheaper than a professional editor!
If you’re concerned that I am turning over my writing to the AI models, don’t worry. I enjoy the writing process far too much to hand my treasured family story to a robot. But I definitely will continue to use the tools to save time and improve my work.
- I used Bard to look up how to spell “zhuzh.” Here’s the result of that query:
The word “shuzzz” is typically spelled as “zhuzh.” It is a slang term that means to make something more lively and interesting, stylish, or appealing, as by a small change or addition. It can also be used as a verb, meaning to improve the look of something by making a small adjustment.
The word “zhuzh” is thought to have originated in the gay community in the 1960s, and it has since become more widely used. It is often used in fashion and beauty contexts, but it can also be used more generally to describe any act of making something more appealing
2. The image above was created using DALL-E, an AI image generator tool from Open AI, the creators of ChatGPT. At the time of this writing, you get 22 images free per month. Here is the query I used: a painting of a robot writing a book using artificial intelligence in the style of Georg Seurat. This technology brings to mind a whole new set of concerns. What’s going to happen to graphic artists?
3. There are several AI text generators out there and more will surely appear. I have used ChatGPT and now Bard which are free. ChatGPT does offer a paid plan which will probably be helpful as the site is often overburdened by users. I also looked at Jasper and Sudowrite. Both of those are geared specifically to writers and have some great added features such as character description, metaphors, and show don’t tell. But, after a brief free trial, they cost around $20 a month, so I’ll be sticking with the free folks!
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!
2 thoughts on “AI and Family History”
This is a fascinating article on how AI is being used to assist with family history writing. The tips provided are useful, and it’s interesting to see how AI tools like Bard and ChatGPT can aid in the writing process. The author’s personal experiences with the technology are also insightful.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Enjoyed your post with Bard and your insights…agree that your writing style and personal touches bring the flat AI voice to life, but will never replace the creativity of the human author. You!