Genealogical Evidence-based Writing, Organizational Brainstorming, and ChatGPT (OpenAI’s artificial intelligence)

In my SLIG 2023 class today in Evidenced-Based Writing (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy), we were in a session on writing preparation and organization, so when we were given ten minutes to try an organizational exercise, I thought I’d see what ChatGPT could do in ten minutes. I’ve been working on a research project for a couple of years, a Civil War-era NPE, and I’ve written about a half-dozen longish blog posts about it, so I quickly extracted the text from those and dumped that into ChatGPT. My first prompts were for a “topic modeling report,” which is how ChatGPT determines what a text is about. I then asked ChatGPT for a “text summary,” which condenses a lot of text to about 1000 words. Finally, I prompted ChatGPT to “Use that summary to outline a proof argument according to genealogical proof standards,” knowing that ChatGPT would fold the topic modeling also into the outline. I did not tell ChatGPT anything about the Genealogical Proof Standard, but it is clear from the result that it knows something about it. Anyway, while I wouldn’t use this for an article to submit to real journal, for a ten-minute exercise, it was pretty enlightening. This is just an exercise–no pearl-clutching!