ETMOOC2 Webcomic: It’s Only AI (New Bot)

It's Only AI 1 (New Bot)I was enjoying a week-long series of comics from the Zits comic strip (April 17-21) about Chatbots and thought, I should try to do a series of comics myself, using what I am learning about through ETMOOC2 and inquiry.

Today is the first of what may be only a handful of my own AI-infused comics, mostly focused on George.Paul.Thomas (aka GPT) as a bot with personality. I can’t write the kind of deep humor that the creators of Zits can (they’re so good at it) but I’ll do my best. Some of the comics may work better than others. Just putting that out there in advance, y’all.

I’ve often turned to comics as reflective commentary, mostly using a comic strip app on my old iPad for the art and framing. My Panels From The Pandemic comics kept me sane during those strange times. I have created comics about writing. And then there was a month-long exploration of making poetry comics. And many moons ago now, I first tried my hand at a comic called Boolean Squared. (note: that comic site needs a lot of work, so apologies in advance)

So, you know, here I go again ….

Peace (Framed, Funny and Free),


ChatGPT Plays A Mad Lib Game It Made

MadLib ChatGPT combined

(This is the fourth inquiry experiment this week with Artificial Intelligence for ETMOOC2. The first was a poetry exchange between AI platforms. The second was an Interactive Fiction project with ChatGPT and Twine. The third was generating code for a website about saxophone design).

This was a strange idea that came to me during the week, but I wondered how ChatGPT would do if I asked it to make a Mad Lib-style story (with prompts for words that a reader/player would suggest and fill in before reading the actual story) on the theme of ChatGPT. This concept became a starter point for my inquiry activity.

I actually ended up asking it compose me four different stories — one about The Day In The Life Of ChatGPT. Another is about a conversation between Google’s Bard and ChatGPT (which it wrote, without my prompting, emerged in the style of Shakespearean English — sort of). ChatGPT came up with that title all on its own: A Hilarious Conversation Between Google’s Bard AI And ChatGPT. (Note: the “hilarious” is an oversell, in my opinion). The other two stories involve a day without technology called When Nothing Worked and finally, Walking A Robotic Dog.

MadLib ChatGPT Title Screen

You can play the four Mad Libs.

I then reversed course and had ChatGPT play one of its own Mad Libs, asking it via a series of queries for random Parts of Speech words for each of the prompts it had just generated for the story (Such as: give me a random “noun”), plugging those words into the Mad Lib story, and the final result came out predictably strange (but perhaps no stranger than any regular human Mad Lib game).

Process Notes: How I did this experiment was that I took the story generated by ChatGPT with a simple prompt — Make me a Mad Lib style story about … —  along with the list of word prompts that were generated by ChatGPT from my query and I moved those over into a Mad Lib generator hosted over at Flippity (which I use with my students). The formatting on the Bard/Chat story dialogue got funky on me and I can’t figure out how to fix it, so it became an odd run-on conversation. I added some character line breaks to help but it still looks mangled to me.

By the way, when I took the same prompts for Mad Lib stories into Google’s Bard, the results were awful and not at all useful. There really is a noticeable difference between the two AI platforms at this point for the kinds of inquiry that I am doing here, where ChatGPT has much more flexibility and creativity built in (or maybe it is more allowed to flourish, likely) than Bard has at this point in time.

Reflections: When we do Parts of Speech in class, we often play and create Mad Libs as a way to play games with language. I suppose ChatGPT could be a collaborator in the story element of these activities, but its sense of humor is only iffy, and what Mad Libs really need is a subversive streak to them. No need to even invite Bard to the party, though. One thing I noticed: The AI was limited in the Parts of Speech it would leave out of the stories.  It was all nouns, adjectives and verbs, and that got pretty boring as a reader/player. A human collaborator would have to expand the choices.

Peace (Filling In The Blanks),

Build Me A Website, ChatGPT!

ChatGPT Website Code

(This is my third experiment this week with Artificial Intelligence tools for ETMOOC2 – the first experiment was about bouncing poems off different AI platforms and the second was using ChatGPT to build out an Interactive Fiction game of choices).

In my further deeper dives with ChatGPT, I wondered about its ability to spit out code for a simple website. I know other folks are doing it, and using it to check code, but I was curious about what it would create for me, in terms of coding out a simple website.

I asked it: Can you give me the basic code for a website that is dedicated to the art of designing and making saxophones?

In seconds, my screen was filling with HTML code, with parting advice to me:

“This code includes a header with a navigation menu, a main section with information about the website and its features, and a footer with copyright information. You can customize this code to fit your specific needs and design preferences.”

Got it!

ChatGPT Code Inquiry

But what did the website look like beyond the raw code?

I asked ChatGPT how I could test its code and see what the site would actually look like to a viewer. The AI quickly provided me with some helpful advice on using a Text Edit application on my computer, saving the file as HTML and then opening the file up with a web browser.

You can take the HTML code provided and use it to create a website by following these steps:

  1. Choose a Text Editor: You’ll need a text editor to write and edit HTML code. You can use a simple text editor like Notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac), or you can use a more advanced code editor such as Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, or Atom.
  2. Create a New HTML File: Open your text editor and create a new file. Copy and paste the HTML code into the new file.
  3. Save the HTML File: Save the file with a “.html” extension, for example, “poetry_celebration.html”. Choose a location on your computer where you want to save the file.
  4. Open the HTML File in a Web Browser: Open your web browser (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari) and go to “File” > “Open File” (or “Open” in some browsers) and select the HTML file you just saved. This will open the HTML file in your web browser, allowing you to see how it looks and test its functionality.
  5. Customize the Website: You can customize the website by modifying the HTML code to suit your preferences. For example, you can change the text, add images, adjust the layout, and customize the styles using CSS.
  6. Publish Your Website: Once you are satisfied with your customization, you can publish your website to make it live on the internet. You can do this by purchasing a domain name and web hosting service, and then uploading your HTML file and any other associated files (such as images or CSS files) to the web server provided by your web hosting service. This will make your website accessible to others via its domain name.

Note: If you are new to web development, you may find it helpful to learn more about HTML, CSS, and web hosting to better understand how to create and publish a website. There are numerous online resources, tutorials, and documentation available to help you learn these skills.

For some reason, Chrome and my other browsers didn’t want to play along (maybe I saved the file wrong?) and all I got when I opened the file was the code itself. So I found an online site called Liveweave to check it out.

ChatGPT Code Inquiry

Pretty basic, as expected, but certainly it could be a starting place for someone working on a functional, if unexceptional, website. I also wonder about whether asking it do something in Python would allow for more complexity and interactivity, which is really what I am after. That’s for another day …

Peace (and the Web),

An Interactive Text Game Of Poetry: Haiku Quest By ChatGPT

Haiku Quest Map by DALL·E

Haiku Quest cover art generated by DALL-E

I was once again playing with various AI chat engines for ETMOOC2 and wondered: could it create an interactive choose-your-own-path text game that I could then take the output and build out as a project in Twine? The answer is yes, if you use ChatGPT to generate the story text. Google Bard’s response to my query was pretty minimal and nearly worthless for what I was trying to do here.

My query to ChatGPT was this: Create a choose-your-own-ending game that uses Haiku as the central text.

Within seconds, I had the framework of a narrative, embedded with haiku, that provided choices for the reader along three main paths, and then each path had another set of choices. It even gave the game the Haiku Quest title. I then asked ChatGPT to provide one more pathway forward for each pathway that it had created, and soon had the basics of simple choice game.

Haiku Quest in Twine

I went into Twine (see Twine tutorial) and added only a few words of my own here or removed a word or two there as navigation advice, but mostly, it was all ChatGPT. I even asked ChatGPT to explain how it built the game and provided the text I used as a sort of meta offshoot to the game construction. I then added images from DALL-E that were generated with the exact textual descriptions from the game that ChatGPT suggested.

You can build interactive stories in Twine but you can’t host your game for others to play in Twine, so I moved the file over into Itchio, a game platform (see tutorial), and now you can play the text game that ChatGPT built, and see what you think. (The cover image on the game was generated by DALL-E, as a way to keep it all in the AI family).

Haiku Quest front page


What are the learning ramifications here? Well, I could see students in collaboration with ChatGPT on creating an interactive fiction story that is playable by others, and it would require some focused inquiry around prompting, guided storytelling, and technology like Twine to build out the story (I’ve had students do this in Google Slides with hyperlinks and it works just fine). I found ChatGPT’s contributions in terms of overall interactive structure to be pretty solid, but I would have added more to the ‘story’ here, and made it more interesting to spark more curiosity in the reader/player. I was most impressed with ChatGPT’s explaining its methods and rationale for decisions it had made in choosing its texts. That level of meta-analysis from a machine system startled me a bit, including its use of first-person narrative.

Peace (Press Play),

Three Poem Generation: An AI Chatbot Platform Jump

Bird Music by DALL·E

Bird Music created by DALL-E

I tried an experiment that sort of pits different Artificial Intelligence Chatbots against each other through poetry and revision, asking one Chat to revise the work of another Chat, and seeing where the words would go.

First, I used a site called AI Poem Generator and gave it a general prompt with no further instructions:

Write a poem about listening to birds on a Spring morning.

The results from AI Poem Generator:

As I awaken to the dawn’s soft light,
The sweet sounds of spring take flight,
Birds outside my window singing with glee,
Making their sweet melody for all to see.

Chirping, trilling, and tweets,
Echoing through the morning streets,
Melodies of hope, love and bliss,
On this spring morning, nothing’s amiss.

Their songs fill my heart with joy,
As I listen to them without any ploy,
I watch them flutter, chirp and sway,
On this perfect spring morning, starting my day.

With each whistle, hum, and tune,
I feel like I’m in an enchanted cocoon,
Their songs a symphony so divine,
A true work of Mother Nature’s design.

So I close my eyes and take it all in,
A spring morning such a beautiful spin,
I thank the birds for their sweet melody,
And for bringing such joy and harmony.

Reflection: I wasn’t all that impressed and the rhymes for the couplets really seemed forced to me, particularly as I read the stanzas aloud. And phrases like “enchanted cocoon” and “any ploy” seemed really jarring to my ears. This definitely felt like a rhyming dictionary was at work, composing verse.

I took that poem and asked ChatGPT to revise it for me, which it did.

The results from ChatGPT:

As I awaken to the gentle light of dawn,
The springtime sounds, a melodic fawn,
Birds outside my window, singing with glee,
Their symphony of melodies, for all to see.

Chirping, trilling, and tweeting so bright,
Echoing through the streets in sheer delight,
Notes of hope, love, and pure bliss,
On this spring morning, nature’s perfect kiss.

Their songs fill my heart with boundless joy,
As I listen without any ploy,
I watch them flutter, chirp, and sway,
Starting my day in nature’s grand display.

With each whistle, hum, and sweet tune,
I feel embraced in an enchanted cocoon,
Their melodies, a symphony divine,
A masterpiece of Mother Nature’s design.

So I close my eyes and take it all in,
This spring morning, a pristine spin,
I thank the birds for their sweet serenade,
For bringing joy and harmony, a nature-made parade.

Reflection: This was slightly better than the first iteration – “symphony of melodies” is a nice bit of phrasing and I did like the ol’ switcheroo of words in the first line here but “melodic fawn” and “pristine spin” later on as a couplet companions did not work for me — yet ChatGPT’s phrasings still had the wooden rhythm and forced rhyming of a predictive-text poem (which, of course, it is).

Then I took ChatGPT’s revision of the AI Poem Generator output, and asked Google’s Bard AI to revise it even further. As with the other steps, my only instructions were to “revise this poem” without any specific details or parameters.

The results from Bard:

Awakening to Spring

As dawn breaks through the darkness,
I hear the birds’ sweet song,
A melody of hope and joy,
That fills my heart with glee.

The birds chirp and trill,
Their voices rising in the air,
A chorus of praise to nature,
On this beautiful spring morning.

I watch them flutter and sway,
As they dance in the breeze,
A celebration of life,
In all its beauty and wonder.

I close my eyes and listen,
To the music of the birds,
And I am transported to another world,
A world of peace and harmony.

I am grateful for the birds,
And for their gift of song,
A reminder that even in the darkest of times,
There is always hope.

Reflection: OK, so interestingly, Bard added a title without being asked, then avoided the couplet rhyming of the other two chat engines, and went for a more free-flow free-verse style of poem. I liked that, for it make it feel less machine-like. Bard also generated more interesting phrasing – “a chorus of praise to nature” and the last two lines were evocative of something larger in the poem.

And in one final reversal, I took Bard’s poem and asked ChatGPT to critique it as a work of poetry.

The results:

Overall, the poem “Awakening to Spring” paints a vivid and uplifting picture of the arrival of spring through the perspective of the birds’ song. The imagery is clear and evocative, bringing to life the sights and sounds of a spring morning. The poem conveys a sense of renewal, hope, and appreciation for the beauty of nature.

One suggestion for improvement is to consider varying the language and imagery used throughout the poem to add more depth and complexity. For example, instead of using generic terms like “hope” and “joy,” consider using more specific and unique language to create a more distinct and memorable impression. Additionally, you could experiment with different poetic techniques, such as metaphor, simile, or personification, to add layers of meaning and enhance the emotional impact of the poem.

Another suggestion is to pay attention to the rhythm and meter of the poem. While free verse can be effective, incorporating some form of consistent rhythm or meter can add musicality and flow to the poem. This can be achieved through experimenting with syllable count, line length, and the use of poetic devices like alliteration or assonance.

Lastly, consider exploring deeper emotions or themes related to the awakening of spring. The poem touches on hope and gratitude, but there could be an opportunity to delve into more complex emotions or explore deeper philosophical or existential ideas. This could add intellectual and emotional depth to the poem, making it more thought-provoking and resonant with the reader.

Overall, “Awakening to Spring” is a lovely poem that captures the beauty and spirit of spring. With some fine-tuning and further exploration, it has the potential to become an even more powerful and evocative piece of poetry.

Bard thanks you, ChatGPT.

Peace (Poems and Bots),

ETMOOC2: Reading/Commenting/Curating Blogs And Posts

ETMOOC2 Curation: Wakelet

I was thankful that Susan gathered together the links of people’s blogs and websites who are participating in ETMOOC2‘s exploration of Artificial Intelligence. I had this idea of curating posts from folks, so I toured through Susan’s link collection.

There were far fewer posts and reflections and inquiry than I would have hoped for in this first week or so of explorations but I decided to set up a Wakelet site to curate what has been posted. I made sure to leave a comment at every blog I read.

I hope to see more posts shared out and will add to my curation as it goes.

Peace (and People),

AI Comic: The Last Bot Standing

The Last Bot Standing

In many AI circles these days, there are discussions about the possibility that AI might advance to the point where its decisions might impact humanity in the most terrible ways — as in, complete destruction of society. It stems from our inability to really know how AI is making its decisions, and that unknown factor is cause for concern. That scenario of Ai-induced collapse of society seems far-fetched to me, but that it is even on the radar screen of AI engineers and developers is a bit worrisome, no?

Today’s Daily Create was to make a comic with Make Beliefs comic site (it was a prompt I had submitted some time ago and is being re-used, so that was fun to run into an old prompt) so, given our work in ETMOOC2, it made sense to poke fun at the idea of a sentient AI becoming the “last bot standing.” (AI is not sentient, and I don’t expect it ever be, by the way).

Peace (and Bots),

ChatGPT Sorta Knows Me But Bard Doesn’t Seem To

ChatGPT Me2

Forget Googling oneself. I wondered what would happen if I ChatGPT-ed myself. What would it know about me? Sure, it’s narcissistic but I was curious about this new emerging technology.

When I Googled myself (with additional information about “teacher” and “Western Massachusetts” etc) before doing this ChatGPT experiment, I saw links to articles I have written for various publications and assorted media, some of which were me and some of where not me (some other Kevin in the world with shared name). There was no narrative about who I might be, just links that might lead me back to me, somewhere else, online.

When I ChatGPT-ed myself (OK, I need a better term here, particular when Bard and other AIs get in the mix), it actually knew quite a bit about me, and it was quite laudatory in its narrative description (it was some cheerleading to end a long week although I felt embarrassed to read some of it). But it also wrong about a few things, including the so-called books I wrote (I didn’t write those books).

Since I am not sure exactly where it has gathered its information, I assume most of it is from either articles I have written, my blog here, and other open educational spaces where I have long been active.  I’ve left a lot of words in a lot of place over the years. The false reference to those books it says I authored likely came from book reviews I had done on them.

I also asked it about my Dogtrax moniker, and it knew it was me.

ChatGPT About Dogtrax

And I asked it about my blog, and it knew my blog and that I wrote it.

ChatGPT About Blog

When I did similar queries into Google’s Bard Chat AI, it was not much worth of much at all.

First, Bard didn’t know who I was (OK, so maybe that’s a good thing that I am not in its database? I’m not even sure anymore).

Bard on Me

Second, it referenced a teacher/writer with the question about “Who is Dogtrax?”, although not my specific name (now I am thinking maybe searching by name is one of the guardrails of Bard?) but it lumped a reference to me in with someone who wrote a book of poetry (Wait — maybe that’s me, too?) as well as “a dog who runs a popular Instagram account” (which is definitely not me, but now call me curious).

Bard on Dogtrax

Bard seemed to know my blog but said it was Kevin Jarrett (another educational writer) who wrote it. I don’t think Kevin Jarrett had a blog of the same name, and I searched to no avail, but the rest of the references seemed to be about my blog (maybe, it was sort of a generic response). It ended with this as a recommendation: “If you’re looking for a blog that will make you think, laugh, and learn, I highly recommend checking it out.”

Bard on Blog

What do we make of all of this? (I seem to be asking myself this question a lot these days)

One lesson is that if you have been writing out in the open, your words and ideas are likely in the belly of the machine. I searched for my wife’s name and nothing came up, although she, too, is a writer and educator, just not as openly published as I have been. I’ve done that knowingly, which is important to understand as a writer.

It should be a given, too, that you don’t want to search ChatGPT for information about something and think it is all true. But it can give you a snapshot — one data point — that might inform you about something.

Maybe even yourself, if you are curious enough to try.

Peace (and Search),

The Artistic Line Between AI and I

I am looking forward to an exploration of AI tools within the ETMOOC2 community soon to be unfolding until the title of Artificial Intelligence And You. I’ve already been doing similar explorations within the NWPStudio with my National Writing Project friends, and ETMOOC was one of the first connected MOOCs (but I was not part if). In fact, ETMOOC helped pave the way for CLMOOC (which I helped facilitate from the start and its long tail continues even today).

I noticed a call for adding a slide to a Google Slideshow, and wondered how I might use that invitation to do something to represent myself in the community.

To gear up, and to play around (there’s that CLMOOC ethos at work) with AI, I decided to ask ChatGPT about how a MOOC might explore AI. It’s reply was fine and interesting, and I realized I wanted to do something with the reply but what? At first, I tried to use Hypothesis with the reply, and I think it worked but I wasn’t sure, and I need to go back to see how notes in the margins might work with ChatGPT.

ChatGPT: MOOC Learning and AIInstead, I decided I wanted to make art out of the reply. I grabbed its response as a screenshot and then went into Dall-E2 to create art. This took quite a few queries to get what I wanted along the lines of a connected community and learning and artificial intelligence. It kept adding garbled text to the generative art, but then I landed on this theme of sketched character holding hands, connecting around a planetary body.

DALL·E MOOC Learning CommunityI then took both the text screenshot and the artwork and folded them together on the Google Slide, using the fader tool to make the art bleed through the surface of the text. I downloaded that slide as an image file. I knew I wanted to do something else, something to show the off-kilter nature of AI in its disruptive nature.

Chat/DallE layeredI landed on using an iPad app called Fragment, which does what it says: it takes an image file and breaks it into pieces, like a broken mirror. There are some other effects within Fragment that allow for slight filters. I found one by just randomizing the controls. The one I saved takes the center of the file, and breaks into what seem to be smaller windows, tumbling out of the file. Metaphorical imagery, it occurred to me as I was doing it, given our confusion over where AI might be going, and taking us with it.

Q/A AI RemixPerfect. I liked that fragmented image of text falling out of the center. Then later, I decided I wanted to go another step forward with more media layers, adding music to the fragmented image. I’ve done my own exploring of AI music generators, which I find lacking right now. Which is too bad because an AI soundtrack would have made sense. Instead, I ended up using found music loops inside Soundtrap, but I did so by searching for ones that captured the sense of disruption and that had a sort of machine-like quality to the loops. I called what I made BotBeat (AI Explorations).

I wasn’t yet done, though. I found that I really wanted a dance party (more echoes of CLMOOC, where a collaborative dance party we once created remains a top moment for many of us). So I went into Giphy and created a series of animated gifs with dancing creatures layered on top of the fragmented Chat/DallE image with the BotBeat as the music to dance to. This was the final gif.

Animated GIF

I then took those gifs into iMovie, adding the song as the audio layer and, done! I have since layered the video dance party on top of the slideshow with the original image mix, but added shadow effect to make it seem like the dance party was in the air above the slide.

ETMOOC slideWhy do all this? Partially because I was curious about where my own curiosity might take me — I didn’t have a real plan when I started but followed my instinct and interest –  and partially because I think it is incumbent on us to not feel satisfied with what these new AI tools feed us. We need to be pushing the AI tools, but doing that by tapping into what makes us human and unique: artistic vision, experimentation and expression, whether through poetry, music, art or whatever inspires us.

Peace (and Bots),

PS — a note on blog title grammar — I know my blog post title here — The Artistic Line Between AI and I is wrong, but I like the flow of it. If I had “me” in there, eh, it wouldn’t work. For I, anyway (hahaha).