Experiment with co-writing: Simpler.ai

I would like to introduce Simpler.ai, a free app (until 6000 words/mn, then no monthly fees 0.001/word), but also ask for experiences on developing co-writing solutions.

The hypothesis for Simpler.ai is that controlling and directing article writing through prompting, either one-shot or multi-shot chat, will make the writer loose some of the control.

So, I have been working on a free app Simpler.ai for writers that has the goal to allow writers write manually, and bring AI to help where it matters. The main features currently are simple: continue text at the end, or in-between existing content with the start and end in mind.

The writer will write as normal, and then press the AI button to help continue. For example, I may start with table of contents, and ask AI to complete it. The writer may turn the ToC into titles, write some intro on each part and ask AI to complete. If writer does not like some word, he can just delete it and generate a few words in the middle.

There was a autocomplete feature called “hinting” to give hints on the potential next words, but that seemed more like a distraction.

I am now brainstorming more ideas on the micro-collaboration between AI and users. I would like to focus on micro-co-operation instead of the “delegation” approach where users ask AI to complete the tasks. Any pointers on cool ideas to try and implement? I am thinking something like voice chat where user could brainstorm ideas talking out loud, or showing buttons for users about ideas what the AI could do next and so on. Or maybe a chat assistant that will not simply reply, but instead will manipulate the main doc… etc.etc. but none of these ideas seem like very good ones yet.

One approach could be to think about the students: how could schools allow students to benefit and learn with AI instead of having AI write their essays. Co-writing essays maybe, not write-for-me…

I’m also in the early stages of thinking how I can turn Quanta[.wiki], which is the web platform I wrote (that is also a document authoring tool), into a collaborative authoring system, where you and the AI collaborate on long form documents.

The easy part is to ask ChatGPT to complete a document based on an outline (or Table of Contents kind of thing) but once you need to modify it’s output, or let it suggest changes to your own, finding a good UX experience is an interesting challenge.

Ideas I’ve had are…

  1. Asking GPT to revise a paragraph with minimal changes, and then showing using a graphical “Diff Tool” the old version next to the revised version side by side, so new changes can be easily incorporated.

  2. I also have thought about letting user select a region of text, and then click a button where you can ask for suggestions like “How can this piece be written more, clearly, etc.”

All cloud document editors (like Microsoft 365, Google Docs, etc) are obviously going to be providing this kind of feature in the near term, or may already have it working. I haven’t checked.

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Cool ideas!

I believe this kind of next stage of co-editing is not yet on the cloud document editors, so I believe more experimentation is needed. Of course it will be eventually there once the best ways are found.

What I have seen from screenshots about MS Copilots and the recent release videos I believe their main focus is on tried and tested chat interface. The coolest part is about ability to search data from emails and Sharepoint docs. Google docs also seems more like writing the starting point with “Help me write” window, this is just based on screenshots what I can find from the search engine.

Copilot release videos