Jake LaCaze

May 6, 2024 ↓

Kudos for micro.blog's use of AI

Since ChatGPT was released to the masses in late 2022, far too many companies have asked how they can integrate large language models (LLMs) into their core products.

Unfortunately, the 'solutions' often include having generative AI write for users. Most implementations of the idea are stupid because the last thing writers want is for AI to write for them. Any company that serves and understands writers will be unsurprised to find writers want to protect their own voices, no matter how hard putting things into their own words is.

That's why companies like iA, the developers of the minimalist writing app writer, didn't go the easy route of turning their app into a glorified ChatGPT prompt. They instead made it easy to differentiate between what you wrote and what you copied from an LLM (or any other source). The technical aspects (programming) don't seem all that hard. But coming up with that answer to address the challenges created by generative AI took a lot of thought.

Manton Reece, the founder of micro.blog, has chosen to take a different route in regard to implementing generative AI: He's instead tasked AI with handling the writerly tasks writers would rather not worry about.

Alt text for images

For one, AI can write alt text for uploaded images.

When I'm focused on writing a longform blog post, switching gears to write accurate alt text is way harder than you might expect. I understand alt text is crucial for digital citizens with accessibility needs, but I'm a horrible, selfish, lazy person. But thanks to AI, my readers can have better accessible images despite my worst qualities.

Podcast transcription

AI also shines on micro.blog by automatically transcribing podcast episodes.

Subscribers on the Premium plan can edit a transcript to create companion text for each episode. (See this post for an example.) It sure beats the hell out of typing it all out yourself.

Opt-in required

Perhaps most importantly, users must explicitly opt in to use AI on their micro.blog sites.

Manton Reece obviously finds value in AI. But he knows some of his customers don't measure value the same way. But hopefully those customers find value in Manton's leaving the choice their own.