Another writer’s rant from the archives…
It was the final straw… yet another article about how a stupendous programme can increase your readership. This one touted its ability to engage a reader’s emotions, based on statistical analysis of the emotive terms included in the title. It will even find a title for you, if you like. All SEO friendly, of course.
I can’t be alone… surely there is something wrong with that concept… But wait, maybe it is just me…
So, refusing to judge on a preconception, I wandered over to the aforementioned site to see what it would offer. Then, in disgust, tapped ‘headline generator’ into the search bar and checked out a few more such sites while my blood pressure quietly rose.
For goodness’ sake… are we and our readers supposed to be mindless morons? Is this the future of writing? Do we really want to be dictated to by a mechanised mind that will self-avowedly grab attention by manipulating emotions, based purely on whether the statistics say it will sell and without necessarily having any relevance or integrity at all?
Why robots are better than sex!
Computer-suggested title for this article.
Or maybe we want to read computer generated novels or poetry? Oh yes, they’ve been capable of doing it for years…but, I think not. Where is the soul in that?
I’ve ranted about the misuse and dangers of editing software already.
If this seems acceptable, I might as well throw away my pen right now. Except, I am stubborn and reactionary and I’ll be damned if I let what can be an incredible servant of the imagination become a despot.
I don’t want to write like a robot.
I don’t want to read computer generated writing. Including headlines.
Apart from anything else, isn’t that why we have imagination? What happens when imagination goes the same way that memory has since the advent of mobile phones? How many numbers did you used to be able to remember. Now, are you even confident that you know your own? I’m not… and I used to have an entire portfolio of clients and suppliers at the tip of my dialling finger.
That’s not scientific evidence, just a personal observation. On the other hand, the electronic age is having measurable and detrimental effects on brain structure, memory, empathic ability, social skills and even the ability of our children to play. I’m not referring to fringe science or debatably fluffy ideas here, but scientific fact, backed by numerous studies from reputable bodies that come complete with substantiating data and scans of the brain.
We have, in a few short years, become so dependant on our technology that we will no longer wrack our brains to recall information…we’ll ask Google. We don’t need to read maps, because the sat-nav tells us where to go, do arithmetic or memorise anything… we can always Google for the answers.
On the other hand we can save previously unsaveable lives, restore quality of life to many who have lost it, reach out into the universe around us and send nano-bots into inner space. In an age where miracles become possible daily through the amazing advances in technology, it would be typically ironic if the human race was simultaneously shooting itself in the proverbial foot.
Use it or lose it.
I’m a reader…and a writer…because I happen to like the creative quirkiness of the human mind. I like to hear the voice of a writer as I read… I like those odd turns of phrase, the sly puns, the clever metaphors. I enjoy humour and double entendre. I love lyrical prose and the poetry of the seeking soul that pours out words like wine.
The human mind is an incredible thing. Science knows a great deal about the brain, but much of the mind remains undiscovered territory, full of wonders and surprises. Imagination is the ability to conjure something magical from nothing, it is behind every act and every emotion…everything that makes us human. It is the force behind the invention of all these machines, programmes and tools that should serve us, not rule us. Should we really put it at risk for good SEO?
Melodramatic? A bit over the top? I wonder.
Ditch the generators, settle for a few less potential readers who probably came for the allegedly catchy headline about why robots are better than sex. You are a reader and a writer, a musician, an artist or an inventor.. a creator because of your imagination and the creativity that is sourced there.
Use it, revel in it, explore it…and protect it.
*The top one was computer-written in case you were wondering, though it is scary that we need to wonder at all.
Links to external articles and research.