A Better Text Editor

Posted on Thu 17 September 2020 in Analysis

I ended up writing yesterday, and it was a pretty productive session; roughly 2k words in 45 minutes or so. This was a terrific performance for me; usually, I don’t write anything near that quickly. The secret to my success was by using GPT-3. I would put together some linking statements, sending the mix to GPT-3, and then pasting what it returns. Edit a little and keep going.

How was I able to do this?

I was going over the tools on how to accomplish this best and was shocked that it was actually on an iPhone/iPad. With tools like Drafts, Shortcuts, and Scriptable, it was pretty easy to put together a tool where I can select some text, send that to GPT-3 using Scriptable, and paste that text into my working document. It was a pretty fun way to break writer’s block - I would get stuck in a paragraph and look to get some text to keep moving. What was most shocking to me was that I would not know how to create a similar workflow on my laptop. The available tools on an iPhone made this possible, which I frankly found shocking.

Why this Matters

I’m seeing two main reasons: the ease of doing this on the iPhone and the lack of ability to do so on my Mac. As an iPhone/iPad combo has opened up a world of computing to those with less computer savvy, I now believe it’s also going to open up a scripting environment to those same people. It’s impressive to only worry about the code without worrying about virtual environments and overall coding environments. Everything (apologies to Apple here) just works.

The other question I had was the lack of movement using traditional tools. Specifically, the entire time I was spinning this process up, I was thinking to myself, “why doesn’t Word automatically do this?” Sure, GPT-3 has just been released, but the fundamental way of using this program hasn’t changed. Sure, the toolbar is more prominent, I can track changes, etc., but I’m still typing words the same way.

This stagnancy is also not a problem unique to word processors either. While there’s been some movement on certain fronts (see Podcasting app), the major players in several industries seem more concerned with maintaining a certain computer status quo.

I think part of my desire is to see computers be better. I’m using my current techniques to create, but why can’t others be better at pushing the ball forward?