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The English coined "soccer"

2024-03-27

From my friends at Duolingo:

The people that affectionately call their Prince William "Wills" and £5 and £10 notes ~"fivers" and "tenners"~ are responsible for shortening "Association Football" to just "Assoc."—which, when written, looks like it might be pronounced "Assock." (This "Association Football" name is the same as the French Football Association in FIFA!) In late 1800s England, at Oxford, there was also a fad of adding -er to some words. And thus, "soccer" was born. In England. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Quantity precedes quality

2024-03-25

Found via Dynomight:

Quality over quantity. I often worry that I write too much on this blog. After all, the world has a lot of text. Does it need more? Shouldn’t I pick some small number of essays and really perfect them?
Arguably, no. You’ve perhaps heard of the pottery class where students graded on quantity produced more quality than those graded on quality. (It was actually a photography class.) For scientists, the best predictor of having a highly cited paper is just writing lots of papers. As I write these words, I have no idea if any of this is good and I try not to think about it.

I hadn’t heard this before, but I do find it to be true. Creativity is a habit. The way to quality is through quantity.

Claude Review

2024-03-25

You can read my review of Phind, another LLM tool, here.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been using Claude Opus (the paid version of Anthropic’s ChatGPT competitor).

For the first time, I think ChatGPT has been outclassed.

For context, I use Claude for help coding (you can read about my process for coding with GPTs here), for understanding new-to-me technical concepts, and for marketing, business, and technical writing.

Here’s what I like about Claude:

  • It feels smarter. I’m not sure exactly how to quantify this, except to say it’s like when you sync slightly better with one coworker than another. On coding projects, I notice fewer suggestions that lead me down a dead end or that add unnecessary scope.
  • It has less of a heavy tone on writing. I feel like ChatGPT gives me decent feedback on my writing, but when I ask it to write for me, it feels like it has been written by ChatGPT (some hallmarks: excessive excitement, over explaining). This is fine in some cases, but in others, I end up having to remove the ChatGPT-ness of it.

With that said, Claude has some pretty big limitations:

  • Just 5 images per chat is a crime. Screenshots of error messages is the default now.
  • I really miss the context I’ve been able to add to my own customGPT for my coding project. It’s not a lot of extra information, but having the LLM know my basic directory structure saves a lot of extra messages.
  • If there is a way to stop a message, edit it, and resend it, I haven’t found it yet in ~3 weeks of daily usage.

Despite all these limitations, given the choice between which one to work with, I am consistently choosing Claude. I wonder what this says about the stickiness of these tools?

Now for the ultimate test: have I cancelled my ChatGPT subscription yet?

No, but for an unexpected reason: the ChatGPT mobile app. I’ve been having voice conversations with ChatGPT mobile, both personally when there’s a topic I want to dig into, and increasingly with my daughter. We pick a topic she’s interested in (e.g., where do dinosaurs come from) and just riff on it. It’s perfect for a curious toddler — she can keep asking questions over and over again. I think this is what Tyler Cowen means when he says creators are competing with LLMs for attention.

We’ll see how long this lasts — I don’t expect that I will continue keeping two LLM subscriptions forever. Hurry up and add a mobile app, Claude team!

Friday Threads

2024-03-22

  1. Maggie Appleton on organizing community.
  2. The leveling effect of AI. I saw this study once upon a time and then lost it. In a call center, deploying LLMs improves novice or low skilled employees more than high skilled employees by helping them mimic high skilled employees.
  3. The AI Email Assistant I've Been Waiting for, with Andrew Lee of Shortwave. Great technical deep dive on how to create AI experiences that actually work.
  4. Social Technographics Ladder
  5. This week my daughter and I have started using ChatGPT’s voice feature to ask questions on the way to school (e.g., “Tell me about Dinosaurs”); if you’re a podcaster, this is competition!

Introducing HeyRecap

2024-03-12

HeyRecap is the next evolution of Recap Roswell, a project using LLMs to create easily readable summaries for the Roswell City Council.

I started this project with two main goals: 1. When I moved to Roswell, I wanted to get more involved with my local government, but figured I should learn about it before I got involved. To my surprise, despite the nearly $200M city budget, there was very little local news coverage to help me figure out what was happening locally. 2. I wanted to develop a better understanding for how LLMs can be used to solve everyday problems. My hypothesis here was that I could create a system that did a good enough job summarizing the meetings that it isn't worth sending a person to cover.

The first version of the project was a python script that created a summary which I copied and pasted into a Ghost newsletter. This was a great way to get started — to my surprise, ~150 others in Roswell were also interested in this — but it really limited my ability to customize the user experience and it was clear that it wasn't going to be able to scale beyond just my local city council. Plus the copying and pasting was tedious!

So this fall, I set out to build an end-to-end app, the result of which you can see at heyrecap.com. For users, there are two primary benefits to the new site:

  1. Full meeting transcripts - Easily search for the specific information behind the summary without having to watch the entire video.
  2. Customizable email preferences - Users can choose to get email updates for all recorded city meetings, not just city council meetings.

For me, this was a chance to build an app end-to-end with a real, if small, audience, while getting to know my city better. I used NextJS and hosted it on Render. Summaries are produced with transcripts from Deepgram. Clerk is providing me with user authentication services (love them) and Resend with email services. My UI components are provided by shad/cn UI. I have opinions about all of these and may write more about them in the future, but for now I'll just say that it's incredible to have so many services so easily stitched together at my fingertips. More often than not, someone else has done 90% of the hard, frustrating stuff so that you can just integrate it with your project. It's awesome.

Over the next several months, I hope to explore what it looks like to scale this some. I'm not sure there is a business here per se, but I'm interested in the idea that I can run a useful local news organization as a side project using AI. We'll see what comes form it!