AI Thinking Partners: With Or Without You?

My friend, Terry Elliott, shared this poem, coming on the heels of his explorations of AI Thinking Partners in the NowComment annotation space. I haven’t yet ventured into the new features in NowComment (but I intend to when I get more time), but I think the concept of human writers intentionally paired with Generative AI “partners” (like ChatGPT or Bard) for thinking, planning, writing, and more is gaining a foothold in the broader AI communities, particularly in the educational circles that I am part of (like ETMOOC2).

This idea decreases the zero sum game of “write my essay or report for me, AI” for copy/paste/plagiarism that so many of us are concerned about, where the writer does little more than prompt a final response from the platform, and then is done. An AI Thinking Partner potentially engages the writer into conversation about a topic, providing information, possibly outlines for longer pieces and maybe revision suggestions, too.

As we often do, I wrote a poetic response to Terry’s poem, as sort of a push-back to the message that the future may require this kind of AI interaction of writers, and I tried to remind myself of the beauty of drafting a piece of writing on physical paper, with all of the cross-outs and scratch marks that make the act of writing a more tangible experience. There’s something still powerful when the only voice you hear when your writing is your own, and not some secondary whispering emerging from Generative AI.

What’s it like
to write side by
side, only to collide
with something
artificial, when
scratch marks,
pencil shavings
and eraser bits
bring a poem
towards a messy
but beautiful

I then took my poem, and asked Bard to write a poem itself about humans writing with Generative AI (its poem was decent, actually — certainly more interesting than anything I have seen come out of ChatGPT so far).

What Bard Wrote

I then merged my poem and Bard’s poem into a single frame that works to make my point about the disruptive nature of this push into Generative AI partners (but it’s important to note that I am not against these Thinking Partner experiments at all and I can see lots of value for writers, and am glad that friends, like Paul Allison, in places like NowComment are experimenting with it to research the potential. But I would still rather have someone like Terry as my Thinking Partner in most writing explorations, a human spelunker as opposed to algorithmic hand-holding.)

Poetic Collision

Peace (and Poems),

Rattled Shook: From Free-Writing Draft To Final Poem

Rattled Shook

We were doing free-writing in the classroom yesterday, as a way to write our way into the day, and, as usual, I was scribbling alongside my students.

One of the pieces kept calling me back, for some reason, so I listened, and returned to a small poem multiple times throughout the day, scratching out words, drawing arrows to show direction of sound, adding ideas with carrots. The last phrase – rattled shook — was a mistake, I think, with words missing, but I became enamored of the way the two words leaned against each other.

Yeah, it’s a mess. My drafts are nearly always a mess.

Draft Rattled Shook

Later on, at home, I did some final editing and then used Pablo to layer in the visual of a tree stump and its rings. The poem is about a tree that has fallen, during a storm, and its roots not able to keep hold of the weight of gravity. But also, the way the rings tell the story of the tree, and how that story is a magical thing.


its ragged rings spoke
tenderly of time

passages inside
a circular wooden book

a celebrated story
captured in rhyme

and in dance,
even as its roots
rattled shook

Peace (within),

Exploring A Research Paper About Artificial Intelligence with ChatPDF

Sparks of AI in ChatPDF

Here’s another interesting tool that integrates ChatGPT’s algorithm: ChatPDF.

What it does is allows you to have a conversation with a PDF that you upload into the platform, and it works pretty well, I’d say. I used a pretty long new research paper from Microsoft about Artificial Intelligence — Sparks Of Artificial Intelligence — and then used the chat function to query the paper about topics I was interested in — art, creativity, etc.

I like that the ChatPDF gives me page number reference points within the PDF itself, allowing me to go into the document to gather more information. It also gives some context to its responses, via ChatGPT.

At 155 pages long, the Microsoft document seemed like too much to take in, but ChatPDF helped me understand the basics. (Note: I realize that I would need to double-check everything the AI pulled out for me, if I were to do more with this tool).

I could see this being very useful for reading — with ChatGPT as your learning guide — long documents, and maybe technical documents, in a way that makes the text more understandable. You can export your “conversations” as a simple text file, as well. Being in conversation with a text itself is a valuable reading strategy, particularly if the text is rather technical in nature.

Peace (and PDFs),

Lettering and AI Art

Make Create Remix

I went a little crazy with the new Lettering tool within the Adobe Firefly AI art platform, which I tried out yesterday.

Duke Rushmore Lettering

Duke Rushmore is my band.

Saxophone Music

And I play the saxophone.

Peace (and AI Art),

Two Poems, Animated

This one is a riff of a poem about fireflies by Terry Elliott.

Divide was the one-word prompt for morning writing the other day.

Both were made with the Keynote app.

Peace (and Poems),


Critterz: An Animated Short Populated By AI Art

This video short was made with Dall-E generated images.

To celebrate the release anniversary of OpenAI’s Dall.E, we are proud to introduce CRITTERZ, the first animated short film utilizing the generative AI power of Dall.E to design ALL the visuals — every character, every background… basically the entire critterz world!

And this is the ‘behind the scenes” video, showing how the movie was made.

Is this one future path of filmmaking? A recent post by Bryan Alexander explored some aspects of this.

Peace (and Critterz),

ETMOOC: AI Story Experiment (Tiny Storie)

Tiny Storie Centipede Story

We’re bound to see even more integrations of Generative AI (like ChatGPT) in digital platforms, so I am keeping an eye out for ways that AI might be used to tell stories. Tiny Storie came across my screen the other day, as a site that will create “personalized stories for kids” through guiding prompts.

As I understand it, the site is not built for children to use, specifically, but for parents and adults to use to craft stories for their children.

I gave the site a whirl — following the prompts to suggest a story about perseverance with a character who is a centipede named Legs. I liked that the stories, as sort of fairy tales, prompt the participant for suggestions on lessons learned in the story and overarching themes, as well as character, location, etc.

Within a few minutes, I had a pretty decent fable set in a garden with my centipede, along with AI-generated artwork and AI-generated voice narration (with the option available for me to record my voice — I didn’t try that feature out). The writing remains a bit wooden and a bit preachy, as it is using ChatGPT as its underlying AI.

I think you can read my story without logging in. Try THE ADVENTURE OF LEGS THE CENTIPEDE: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE GARDEN

The site is still in beta but I think it has some nice possibilities for personalizing stories. In fact, the Tiny Storie site reminds me a bit of those books you could (still can?) order with a kid’s name in it as the main character, and then when the book was published on demand, the kid is the main character in a printed, physical book.  I remember having that done for me by my grandmother when I was a kid, and how incredibly thrilled I was! My wife had the same experience.

Peace (and Stories),

ETMOOC: Bard’s New Buttons

Bard Buttons

Although ChatGPT is getting all of our attention as a Generative AI platform that is transforming the landscape of writing and learning, Google’s own AI platform — Bard — is getting better, too, and they recently (I think?) added a few buttons that make it even more useful. One button “exports” its answer results to a new Google Doc or Gmail (and I think Slides and Sheets is coming), and it worked just fine for me.

I’m developing a Professional Development session for the summer around using AI to support English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities, so I asked Bard for some suggestions on the possibilities, and then I quickly and easily exported its responses to my queries to a Google Doc for further editing and revision, and adding to, for later on. Easy.

There’s also a Google Search button that allows you to quickly do some search on the topic of the question (I think Bing has this, too). I am still hoping these platforms add some way to cite the sources of the responses, in some fashion.

I wonder if these AI tools by Google are going to be embedded in its Google for Education networks and what kinds of debates are unfolding at Google and in schools around this decision? And will school networks be able to turn off the AI integration into student accounts, when it comes, if that’s what they decide is best for their institution? Will they want to turn them off? Or will these AI tools be modified for student accounts with more guardrails and filters?

The reality is that once Google’s Bard is fully integrated into its common suite of tools (Docs, Slides, etc.), it will likely be the AI that people turn to the most. ChatGPT got out of the gate first, and maybe has powerful applications, but people want the familiar and ease of use, and I predict that Bard will become the prominent Generative AI in most people’s lives in the years ahead.

Lots of questions … but the buttons on Bard are certainly useful.

Peace (Pondering It),