AI handles a softball question better than I expected

May 31, 2023

You have probably been reading about AI and in particular about ChatGPT. And if you’ve been reading critically, you know that ChatGPT is prone to wildly fanciful speculation. So I’ve been avoiding it. But a friend posted something fun on Facebook, along with a signup link, and I said, Hey, what the heck. I signed up.

My friend’s challenge worked as expected, which is to say badly. The challenge was to enter “Please write a short biography (up to 3 paragraphs) for [YOUR NAME], who lives in [YOUR CITY, YOUR STATE].” I did that and learned all sorts of new facts about myself, none of which were true. Go ahead. Try it.

But then I decided to ask it to write a brief essay in response to this: “What is the difference between a book designer and a graphic designer?” [Spoiler: I’ve written about the difference many times in many places. I know the answer.] Here is ChatGPT’s first attempt at an answer:

While there can be overlap in their skills and responsibilities, there are distinct differences between a book designer and a graphic designer.

A book designer specializes in the design and layout of books, focusing on the visual presentation and organization of printed materials. They consider factors such as typography, page layout, cover design, and overall aesthetics to create a cohesive and visually appealing book. Book designers understand the intricacies of book production, including selecting appropriate typefaces, establishing a hierarchy of information, and ensuring readability. They work closely with authors, publishers, and printers to bring the book’s content to life in a visually pleasing and engaging manner.

On the other hand, a graphic designer has a broader scope of work and can be involved in various design disciplines. They may create visual designs for a wide range of media, including branding, marketing materials, websites, logos, packaging, and more. Graphic designers use their artistic skills, knowledge of design principles, and software proficiency to develop visually compelling and communicative designs. They often work on projects that require a strong understanding of branding, user experience, and visual communication across different mediums.

While both book designers and graphic designers share a foundation in design principles and aesthetics, their areas of specialization and the nature of their work differ. Book designers focus primarily on the specific requirements and considerations of book production, whereas graphic designers have a broader scope and can work on various design projects across different industries and mediums.

Not bad for a robot. But I wanted it to be more specific. So I asked this: “What are the risks of having a graphic designer design a book?” The response follows:

While graphic designers possess design skills that can be valuable in book design, there are certain risks involved when using a graphic designer to design a book. Some potential risks include:

  1. Lack of Book-specific Expertise: Graphic designers may not have a deep understanding of the unique considerations and technical aspects specific to book design. Books have their own requirements such as proper pagination, margins, gutter space, and chapter breaks. Without a comprehensive understanding of these elements, a graphic designer might overlook crucial aspects, resulting in a book that is visually inconsistent or difficult to read.
  2. Inadequate Typography Knowledge: Typography plays a crucial role in book design, affecting readability and aesthetics. While graphic designers are typically skilled in working with type, they may not have the specialized knowledge required for book typography. Issues such as appropriate typeface selection, leading, kerning, and ensuring consistency throughout the book can be overlooked, leading to a suboptimal reading experience.
  3. Insufficient Knowledge of Publishing Standards: Book production involves adhering to specific publishing standards and requirements. This includes understanding industry-standard file formats, color modes, image resolutions, and print specifications. If a graphic designer lacks knowledge of these standards, it can result in technical issues or printing problems that affect the quality of the final product.
  4. Limited Understanding of Narrative Flow: Book design involves considering the narrative flow and pacing of the content. It requires a keen eye for structuring chapters, integrating images or illustrations, and maintaining a consistent visual theme throughout the book. Graphic designers without experience in book design may not fully appreciate these considerations, potentially disrupting the reading experience or the intended impact of the book’s content.

To mitigate these risks, it is often advisable to collaborate with a professional book designer or someone with expertise in book design. They possess specialized knowledge and experience specific to book production, ensuring that the design aligns with industry standards, enhances readability, and supports the overall intent of the book.

The voice is flat and academic, but the content is thorough and accurate. On the one hand, this is scary as all get-out. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how the public responds to the acres of blandness being spilled all over websites and media of all kinds. I hope I don’t find a lot of AI-generated text in manuscripts I edit. That would be disappointing.

For older posts, please visit the archived words / myth / ampers & virgule blog.

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