The Idea EnthusiastThe Idea Enthusiast

If you’re using a “content generator”, that’s a bad sign

by Greg Roth

There is alot of talk about AI and automation these days at conferences, and sadly, that has reached the creative-focused events as well. Marketing conferences are going full into AI area because “it will be here before you know it!”  The National Speakers Association is advertising a session at its Future of Speaking conference* called “Imagine Content Creation in a World with Creative Machines”.

An Entrepreneur magazine article promises that 5 free content generators will change the way you write. I assume they mean that’s good, but it doesn’t matter because it’s a lie.

Every successful business became successful because it first solved a problem, then continued to solve it more artfully. And yet, we are simultaneously talking about do a better job of designing for humans while directing more of our hope towards machines to solve our problems. It’s both nonsensical and dishonest.

Or, to put it more simply:

We have to acknowledge that creating anything, even something as simple and as ultimately fleeting as a blog post — despite the fact that it can live forever on the web — is a flawed, imperfect, messy, and ultimately human process. or, creating anything of value is. There are plenty of blogs, tweets, and videos online with less than 5 views that prove that point.

That brings me back to developing content. I do it, you do, most people or things that want to be noticed these days do it. “Content marketing” was, at the time, just a fancy way of saying “show me don’t tell me”. Somehow, we both in an age when we are fretting over engagement yet we are looking to remove the human element from everything we do.

I keep thinking about a quote from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee that isn’t a perfect translation but feels related: In season 7, episode 4, show host Jerry Seinfeld is asking his guest, Garry Shandling, about David Brenner, the prominent 70s comic who had recently passed away:

SEINFELD: Y’know, David Brenner passed away last year. You ever think about all that material?
SHANDLING: [laughs]; So, I’m at a stage on my life when I actually care about the person. Here’s what I thought you were going to say: “Did you ever realize when David Brenner died and Robin [Williams], the actual impermanence of life?” I never thought “there goes alot of material”. That’s hilarious that you think that way.
SEINFELD: All that material. He worked so hard on it. It’s just gone, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore. It was so much work to create.
SHANDLING: That material — and your material — was purely a vehicle for you to express your spirit. And your soul. And your being. That’s why you’re fantastic.
SEINFELD: So, it doesn’t have any value beyond that?
SHANDLING: It doesn’t have any value beyond expressing yourself spiritually in a very soulful way! It’s why you’re on the planet!…So when you saw Robin Williams for the first time, you don’t remember everything he said, it was just his presence!

Shandling, sadly, would pass away only weeks after the episode aired, making it his last appearance on film.

Maybe that new piece of content marketing you’re putting out isn’t exactly going to express your inner being or touch someone’s soul, but it is the work of a human trying to reach another human. To start suggesting that jokes will someday be written by computers or that an online content generation tool is going to kickstart your brand identity is to buy into a system in which we ultimately don’t really matter.

Stop chasing shiny objects. Stop looking for cheat sheets. Stop using “content generators” to do what you and you product or service was put on this Earth to do: Listen and respond.

*-Fill disclosure, I applied to speak and my topic “Can We Still Be Funny?” was not accepted. 

Greg Roth
About Greg Roth
Founder, The Idea Enthusiast. Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, and writer about all things creative consulting. DC-based consultant to individuals who want to be more creative, teams who want to collaborate without fear, and anyone who wants to deliver the best pitches and presentations.

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If you’re using a “content generator”, that’s a bad sign