Have you ever sat to write something, got stuck, realized that you were watching cat videos instead of researching the secret life of plants? Well, you are not alone.
Switching contexts between writing and researching put a great deal of cognitive load on the writer. It also requires inhumane levels of self-discipline to achieve without becoming distracted. Oh … look … a cute cat video ..!
Our research team works hard to discover new ways to make writing simpler for users of our rich-text editors TinyMCE and Textbox.io. We recently explored several techniques to reducing the cognitive load imposed on authors through traditional content creation processes. In this blog series, you will learn how the new Ephox Cognitive Assistant will make your next writing experience easier and more fun. It may even make you smarter.
We regularly conduct user testing and our Cognitive Assistant program is no different. We often get feedback like this:
“(The Cognitive Assistant) readily helps me to create a blog as it makes it very easy and quick to write, and it guides me with information that inspires me to write more, so I don’t have writer’s block. It’s very intuitive and helps me to write a story with an abundance of information for the viewers of my blog.”
Most types of writing, whether a blog post, white paper, or newspaper article, benefit from the inclusion of timely and relevant facts. With over 1 billion websites on the internet today, there is a fairly good chance that the facts you are looking for already exists. Right now, there is no convenient and easy way to integrate supplementary facts into your writing. AI-assisted writing can fix this.
There’s also the time-saving factor cognitive technology like IBM Watson can bring writers. If you’re in a pinch to produce a piece of content, the research alone could eat up huge amounts of your time. With our Cognitive Assistant, you’ll have the opportunity to create more robust content with rich information sources (such as Wikipedia) on demand.
Integrating supplemental facts into your writing generally requires a context switch, which imposes a cognitive load on the author and often leads to distractions
What is the Ephox Cognitive Assistant?
We developed the Ephox Cognitive Assistant to test whether writing could be made easier by bringing existing and well developed cognitive and AI technologies right into the editor. We did this by developing an editor extension that automatically processes text as you type it in the editor. It is then analyzed with concepts and facts related to the themes in your writing returned in a sidebar area.
In the example below, I write about my visit to New York City. and the Cognitive Assistant analyzes my words, and displays relevant concepts in the sidebar. I can then effortlessly drag concepts directly from the sidebar into my writing without breaking my flow. This means fewer cat video distractions and more writing for me!
As you write, the Cognitive Assistant adds relevant information into the sidebar (top) which can be dragged directly into your writing (bottom) without breaking your writing flow.
Our hypothesis when we began work on the Cognitive Assistant was that we can make writing better by reducing the cognitive load of task switching during the content creation process. In the next post, we will look at the technology that underpins the Cognitive Assistant.
Colin Westacott and I presented at the Content Strategy Meetup in Brisbane on 21st March 2017. If you missed the presentation, you can download a copy of their slides here: An army of one: Using cognitive bots to make writing more simple (pdf).