- It has the potential to be a fundamental breakthrough in human communication.Surprisingly, because of the slow pace of innovation in writing software, augmented writing is really only the third disruption in nearly half a century of computer-assisted writing.Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane.A brief history of writing softwareThe text mode eraThough there was once something sold called a “word processing machine” (basically a glorified typewriter with a small screen so that you didn’t have to use as much gunky Liquid Paper to correct mistakes), the true beginning of mass market word processing started with the advent of IBM’s personal computer and the subsequent PC revolution.The IBM Personal Computer.
- The idea was that you could see on the screen exactly what a document would look like when it was printed.Microsoft had a purpose-built applications team founded with the mission to build great WYSIWYG word processing software, and they were quick to market with a little product called Microsoft Word that took full advantage of this new technology.Microsoft Word let everyone create garish documents with just the click of a button!For the first time, the printed page was right there on the screen!
- Once people had Word, they never ever wanted to go back.WordPerfect didn’t have WYSIWYG in their blood… the team and software hadn’t been purpose-built for the graphical era.
- Even Quip, the biggest writing exit of the last few years, is fully of this collaborative era.The missing linkSo we’ve seen writing software evolve from text mode through WYSIWYG editing to today’s focus on collaborative editing.What does all the software from all of these eras have in common?It doesn’t make your writing better.There are features galore to decorate text… to make it red and bold, or to encapsulate it in fancy bulleted lists or surround it with ornate borders.
- There are features to quickly get back to earlier revisions of your document.But these products miss the highest, most important potential of writing software — the capability to make the human a more successful writer.The augmented writing eraAnd so now, we stand at the precipice of the next era of writing software — the era of augmented writing.Each era in writing software was fueled by a disruptive technology that changed people’s expectations of what writing software was capable ofThe rise of machine intelligenceAugmented writing builds on an incredibly disruptive technology: machine intelligence.The core tech now exists to be able to quantitatively predict with a high degree of accuracy whether a document or email you’re writing will get the outcome you want.This predictive power is paired with a new kind of writing user interface which x-rays your document in real-time.
Humans have long imagined language superpowers. Imagine if you could know — in advance — exactly how other people would react to your words. This is augmented writing, and it’s here already.
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