Blog Post

Playing with AI copywriting and video creation - we can’t ignore it any longer

By: Marco Campana
September 25, 2022

Recently I wrote about tech we're not talking about in our sector. I’m hoping to explore many of these technologies. In this article I’m looking at  AI copywriting and video creation sites. There's a lot of potential, and things to think about here.

In a conversation last week someone brought up AI copywriting in our sector. Specifically, having AI write the security statement for your website. The question came up about whether AI writing articles for our websites eventually might be a threat to jobs. Is it something that we should fear or embrace as a digital tool? Is it a conversation happening in other parts of our sector? 

So I decided to play with it myself. 

The results are interesting and better than expected.

AI copywriting

First, AI copywriting. I’ve heard of a few AI copywriting sites, such as Sudowrite, Copy.ai, Copymatic.ai. In this article about academic essays, Josh Bernoff experiments with Sudowrite. So I decided to give it a try.

One of the ways you can use it is to feed the site some existing paragraphs and then ask it to generate more. You can pick and choose what to add and where in your article. So I took 6 paragraphs from this post and had Sudowrite finish the post.

During the pandemic (which, by the way, isn’t over, so we probably shouldn’t abandon everything we’ve learned just yet), there was an explosion in sharing, open information, webinar recordings, accessible conferences, and an interest in knowledge mobilization.

Every document that reviewed what we were doing, learning, and wanted, all of which deeply consulted the sector and Newcomers, told us that Knowledge Mobilization was an essential goal, outcome, and destination we wanted to reach. It is in fact a theme that has come up for decades in our sector, in both discussions and research.

I'm a big believer in the idea that information wants to be free. This site exists based on that idea. To reveal and share useful and interesting information. 

Unfortunately, I think as we emerge from the pandemic our sector is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to professional development, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing, restricted to members or folks with certain access. We're moving back to siloed, in-person-only events that are not recorded or shared widely (and, no, sharing a PowerPoint deck has never been a replacement for the presentation IMO). Password protected community sites where information is hidden unless you're a member.

There is a place for password-protected sites, to have private conversations, to plan, to discuss without fear. But the information shared, resources, webinar recordings, research, progress reports, projects funded, and more, should be in a common public place accessible for all. Not just those who are funded, but all who are interested in creating welcoming and inclusive communities for Newcomers. 

I think this is what we need to be doing in the non-profit sector in Canada, in particular the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector I work in. I haven't gotten around to forming my entire argument and pitch about it yet. But, I imagine it will be of interest to some, and maybe comments/discussion will help me form a more coherent opinion!

I then used Sudowrite to add to my original text.

Here's a short video of me using it so you can get a sense of what it looks like and how it works, followed by the complete article/post:

Here's the full new article/post after using Sudowrite:

During the pandemic (which, by the way, isn’t over, so we probably shouldn’t abandon everything we’ve learned just yet), there was an explosion in sharing, open information, webinar recordings, accessible conferences, and an interest in knowledge mobilization.

Every document that reviewed what we were doing, learning, and wanted, all of which deeply consulted the sector and Newcomers, told us that Knowledge Mobilization was an essential goal, outcome, and destination we wanted to reach. It is in fact a theme that has come up for decades in our sector, in both discussions and research.

It’s more than knowledge exchange and the transfer of information. It’s the alignment of knowledge and action, and the use of knowledge to build and guide action.

I'm a big believer in the idea that information wants to be free. This site exists based on that idea. To reveal and share useful and interesting information. I support Knowledge Mobilization because it's critical for the future of our profession and the sector. It is also a belief that folks might be able to help make a difference. Knowledge mobilization is just that. It is the process of taking knowledge and putting it into different forms and formats, or making it available in different ways, or making it useful.

There is a bit of a difference between sharing information and knowledge mobilization.

Sharing is the act of giving something to someone else.

Unfortunately, I think as we emerge from the pandemic our sector is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to professional development, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing, restricted to members or folks with certain access. We're moving back to siloed, in-person-only events that are not recorded or shared widely (and, no, sharing a PowerPoint deck has never been a replacement for the presentation IMO). Password protected community sites where information is hidden unless you're a member.

There is a place for password-protected sites, to have private conversations, to plan, to discuss without fear. But the information shared, resources, webinar recordings, research, progress reports, projects funded, and more, should be in a common public place accessible for all. Not just those who are funded, but all who are interested in creating welcoming and inclusive communities for Newcomers.

I think this is what we need to be doing in the non-profit sector in Canada, in particular the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector I work in. I haven't gotten around to forming my entire argument and pitch about it yet. But, I imagine it will be of interest to some, and maybe comments/discussion will help me form a more coherent opinion!

I want to see Knowledge Mobilization succeed in my field and in the world, because when that happens, we all benefit! This kind of material is a way to point to what we've learned, where we want to go, and why we want to go there. It helps people move forward, via content and skills.

I think it's incredibly important. It's also a way to encourage others to share and learn from each other, to help bridge the gaps in our sector. To show how we're all connected and how, together, we're strong.

Knowledge Mobilization is not easy. It takes a lot of work and organization. But I think good information, applied knowledge, and engaging people with their community, is one of the most important things we can do for our organizations and for our sector.

I didn't talk about how we all should be sharing knowledge and information freely, but I think that's another piece to this puzzle (secret: I really really really really really really really believe that no one has a monopoly on information, or is copyrighting or patenting something that shouldn't be. I think there is too much of a history of making knowledge so closed that people can't share and learn, and it's just wrong).

I think this is a big topic that deserves a bigger post, but one I wanted to share my positive thoughts on the topic of Knowledge Mobilization and the future of the sector. What do you think about Knowledge Mobilization? What role does it have in our sector? What do you think about it's future?

I think we're on the right track, but I also think we can be doing more.

So, with that in mind, what are your thoughts/experiences with knowledge mobilization? Please share!

So, that’s not horribly bad! I would definitely edit any text that Sudowrite generates, but this is pretty decent and flows from the initial paragraphs. As Josh Bernoff wrote, “as AI software gets better, these AI-written essays are going to get better, too. So it’s time to decide what is ethical and what to do about it.”

Ethics in technology is certainly something we know we need to figure out in our sector. How we use AI definitely needs to be part of that conversation.

For $10/month, can you ignore it? Are there use cases in our sector? If English isn’t your first language, maybe you already use Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor in your writing. Is this a logical next step?

AI talking head videos

Video is something that comes up a lot in conversations. I’ve written that you need to start making videos for your clients and I spoke with David Phu from Nonprofit Video Comms, a nonprofit video and communications consultancy about this in a podcast episode.

It seems AI is being built to help you here as well.

I'd heard of Synthesia, a web-based platform for creating videos with AI avatars and voices.

I tried the free sample, creating a 10 second video. Check it out here:

Here’s my experience of creating a simple video:

Here's their video overview outlining a lot of their features:

You can create videos in over 60 languages. The AI avatars are multicultural and representative of a wide range of people.

For $30/month for 10 minutes of video, can we ignore it? What are the use cases in our sector? A quick employment, health, housing tip translated into multiple languages (of course languages that staff speak so you can check the accuracy of the translation)? You don’t have to get over your discomfort or fear of appearing on camera? Let the AI avatar do it for you?

What do you think? Are these tools potentially useful as complements to your work? Can you see yourself using them? Or does their existence cause anxiety?

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