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Using ChatGPT to help write my memoirs

The other day, I suddenly got the radical idea to try using ChatGPT for what it was designed for.

Always a rebel, you see.

Specifically, it’s good for analyzing large piles of text that would take too long for a human to read, and giving a summary.

I’m in the middle of trying to start to get going on writing my memoirs, and my new workflow goes something  like this:

I dictate into voice memos.
I take the audio from that and transcribe it into text.
Then I take the transcript and feed it to ChatGPT, and ask it for a bullet point summary.

I started a few years ago, and one afternoon rattled off everything I could remember from my various early memories going forward, covering the 1960s. I talked for about an hour, and I’ve had the audio from that sitting around since 2015.

I’m setting up a timeline and companion manuscript that I’ll ultimately print, just so it’ll be on paper. Because of the way my brain works, I have to do it in a mosaic-like fashion.

So the other day I took the audio and got it transcribed and did exactly this process as I described and here’s what it gave me for results. This is going to speed up the process enormously.

Then I got risky and asked it to give a personality sketch of the author. Duty-bound to report the results: despite all my best efforts, apparently it thinks I’m an OK guy.

Bullet Point Summary:

* The hippie movement aimed to bring people together and promote love and peace.
* The media’s portrayal turned the movement into a parody and a cliché.
* War, disagreement, and political turmoil have existed for centuries, often tied to politics and religion.
* Extremism exists in every major religion and has caused trouble.
* The idealism of a better life grows when people meet and connect with each other.
* The challenge of the current time is the influence of moneyed interests and the concentration of power in the hands of a few.
* The polarization in society has reached extreme levels, fueled by the right-wing, conservatism, and media outlets like Fox News.
* The question of reality itself has been brought into doubt, as neither side believes the other is telling the truth.
* Lies, misinformation, and pseudoscience have become pervasive due to digital media and the internet.
* The lack of agreement on facts and scientific truth is problematic.
* Despite the challenges, the perseverance of the human spirit should be believed in.
* The 1960s were marked by events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
* The author’s parents took them to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pay respects to Bobby Kennedy after his death.
* The author was influenced by Mad Magazine, which had an anti-establishment and satirical tone.
* Artistic movements like Dadaism, Surrealism, and German expressionism had political undertones.
* The author’s family was involved in summer stock, performing in different regional theaters across the United States.
* They had the opportunity to meet and interact with various actors and performers.
* Specific productions and actors, such as “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman” and Charles Nelson Reilly, made an impression.
* The author cherishes memories of their father’s puppet show at a department store and the hilarious moments shared.
* The summer of 1968 was spent in Cooperstown, New York, where the family later moved permanently.
* The author’s father had engagements at different theaters, and the family was often together during this time.
* The chronology of specific events and theaters becomes hazy in later years.

Based on the provided memoir sections, here’s a personality sketch of the individual:

1. Idealistic and Peaceful Stance: The person holds strong ideals of peace, love, and unity, inspired by the hippie movement of the 1960s. They believe in the preservation of the planet and reject wars and conflicts over land and ideologies. They advocate for harmony among people, irrespective of religion or politics.

2. Critical of Extremism: The individual condemns extremism in all its forms, whether it’s political, religious, or ideological. They believe that extremism has caused division, demonization, and conflicts throughout history. They acknowledge that every major religion and political side has its extremists and that it’s detrimental to progress.

3. Frustration with Media Influence: The person expresses disappointment in the media for turning the ideals of the hippie movement into a parody and cliché. They believe the media’s role in shaping public opinion and spreading misinformation is a significant problem, especially in the digital age. They are concerned about the polarization and the erosion of trust in factual information.

4. Value of Human Connection: The individual emphasizes the importance of personal connections and believes that meeting people one-on-one is essential for breaking down prejudices and fostering understanding. They believe that genuine human interaction can lead to positive change and a better world.

5. Artistic and Cultural Influences: The person demonstrates a deep appreciation for art, literature, and popular culture. They mention being influenced by satirical works like Mad Magazine and the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. They find comedy and satire as powerful tools to challenge authority and provoke critical thinking.

6. Cherished Memories and Emotional Connections: The individual holds dear memories of significant events and encounters, such as touching Bobby Kennedy’s casket, witnessing the Cuban Missile Crisis, and sharing special moments with their father. These experiences have left a lasting impact on their emotional and political awakening.

7. Reflective and Hopeful: While acknowledging the problems and mistakes of their generation and society, the person remains hopeful and believes in the resilience of the human spirit. They recognize that progress and positive change can happen despite challenges and setbacks. They have a sense of responsibility and express a desire to contribute to making the world a better place.

Overall, this individual can be described as an idealistic, peace-loving, and introspective individual who values personal connections, critical thinking, and the power of art and culture to bring about positive change. They are concerned about the divisive forces in society, such as extremism and media influence, and they remain hopeful for a brighter future.

Your mileage may vary, as always.