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June 12, 2021 Saturday 03:17:45 PM IST

The Death of the Creative Writer!

Guest Column

One morning I received a Whatsapp message from Rupesh asking for my wife's contact number. Even as I shared I was curious to know why he suddenly sought it. "I heard your wife is doing some terrace farming. I am looking for some gardening tips from her. I am moving to the countryside and it may help." Rupesh had excelled in creative content writing and design and held senior positions in Ad agencies and IT firms for over two decades. He had even written two books on creative writing and campaign strategies. Why is he leaving all that glory behind and moving to the country side?

I had a chat with him over phone the same night to find out more. 

"Creative writing is dead or very soon it will happen. You all celebrate Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning(ML).Much of it hyped you know.. and those blokes are thinking it will work," he said in a melancholic tone. 

"My firm asked whether I can become a consultant and work for one third salary. I did try for some gigs but they are offering 20-30 paise per word and asking for samples or even making me do online tests!"

"I heard of US companies that were offering people to work remotely in rural areas and enjoying the nature to cut down on their infrastructure costs and salaries. But no such offers came to me. I thought of returning to my ancestral place and start doing real farming. If I feel like I may write about it and post them or use the YouTube!" Rupesh said.

Google Core Update
Meanwhile, I was told that Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is also to be blamed for the slow death of creative content on the web. They keep changing the algorithms, page rank, keyword search parameters that nobody is able to guess correctly how Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) system works. According to Neil Patel, who runs an ad agency specialised in digital marketing, the core update released by Google in June 2021 saw many sites drop in page rankings. His traffic also dropped 9% but comparatively less than others. Neil Patel used to begin every article with a story or some writers used their literary flourish or flowery language to begin their blog or article.

Google has changed the algorithm to flag off sites that provide 'fluff' rather than hard content in simple, easy to understand language.  Very soon the language of web content may become stereotyped,straightforward and devoid of literary merits resembling the school guides of yesteryears. The use of infographics or videos doesn’t help a site to get better rankings as per the new Google Core update.
I did visualise the possibility of bulk writing for web being taken over by AI bots as human fatigue and inability to concentrate for hours can reduce the quality output. Companies find it difficult to use human resources to scale up content. For eg. global news agency AP uses apps such as Phrasee to generate automated email content to be sent to subscribers or potential readers.  However, no one may have imagined that AI and Google’s silly algorithms will make creative writers dinosaurs of a bygone era. Here are the news clips taken from a training session I did on content automation for Kerala Media Academy two years ago and one can imagine what the automation scenario will be now!

 -Germany’s Commerzbank is going to use AI for writing research reports. It has already invested in Retresco, a content automation company.
-Financial Times reported that AI is capable of achieving 75% of what humans do with equity research reports
-Global Content Automation Industry wil grow from $3.5 bn (2014) to $5.5 bn in 2019.

When I thought of how to begin this article, I was reminded of the Google core update that dissuades story telling but belonging to the ‘ old school’, I cannot change so easily despite the SEO and AI threats. 
Do you believe that AI and Google algorithms will lead to ruin of creative content? Share your views to

Sreekumar Raghavan

Sreekumar Raghavan is an award-winning business journalist with over two and a half decades of experience in print, magazine and online journalism. A Google-certified Digital Marketing Professional, he specialises in content development for web, digital marketing and training, media relations and related areas. He is the recipient of MP Narayana Pillai Award for Journalism in 2001 and holds a bachelors degree in Economics and Masters Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kerala University.





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