Have you seen the video floating around Instagram and TikTok featuring a large American Airlines plane with audio of the co-captain talking to the tower about landing because the captain in training had died in the chair next to him?
Here’s what the audio says, to begin: “Eh Tower Envoy 3356 we need to return.”
Envoy Air is a regional carrier for American Airlines, part of American Eagle.
I clicked to read the comments.
“The least they could have done was use a video of an ERJ-175 or something. AE doesn’t fly A321s.”
It’s kind of like this picture:
I made that picture in Canva.
If you look pretty closely you can tell what was already in the lifestyle picture and what I dragged over from the Canva photo stash.
But you have to be paying attention.
Give anyone a smartphone, a computer, a few apps, and an internet connection, and they’re an influencer.
Not “influencers,” but influencers in the way that whatever, and I do mean WHAT. EVER. any of us put out on the airways will be consumed by someone, and whether that someone realizes it or not, that someone will be influenced.
Real or not real?
Were the fake tanks used by the allies during World War II in Northern Africa, Italy, and in the run up to D-Day the beginning of modern day deepfakes? After all, the tanks were placed where they were in hopes that the Germans would take photos, think the tanks were real, and then act accordingly.
Interesting to consider when, on the whole, until very recently, for the most part:
“Real” was photographic evidence.
“Real” was video evidence.
“Real” were audio recordings.
If a recording of Chris Pine saying that Harry Styles did not spit on him in Venice surfaced, 3 years ago it would have been reasonable to believe that video.
Not so, now.
Today, CHATGPT is almost old news.
I started writing this newsletter and made my fake living room images on Monday, March 20.
On Saturday, March 25, this image went viral:
Search “Pope in a Coat” to find it online.
Apparently the Pope plus this coat was just plausible enough as an outfit choice many many people who saw it believed it.
As the Washington Post reports:
This particular puffer — gargantuan and gleaming, with a cinched waist and imposing oversize hood — landed in that slim Venn diagram sweet spot between “what the pope might actually, practically wear to keep warm on a cold day” and “what the wealthiest 26-year-olds are currently wearing around SoHo.”
Ryan says, “cool.”
I say “mildly terrifying.”
Sunlight not Gaslight
“Gaslighting” was Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year.
From the website Daily Hive, “According to the online dictionary, 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for “gaslighting,” with high interest throughout the year.”
Here’s the origin of the word. A movie from 1944 adapted from a 1938 play.
Interesting that the play, the movie, and the word all came about at the same time as the fake tanks.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote his famous line, “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant” in a 1913 article for Harpers.
Sunlight, meaning transparency, seeing what is real, seeing to believe. He wrote that line in an article about publicity.
Interesting that one of the ways you can tell that images used to sell plants are often fake or poorly photoshopped is the lack of correct shadows in them.
Something just feels “off.”
Something doesn’t feel real.
Last Monday morning I listened to an episode of the Ezra Klein show during which he read his New York Times column from March 12, 2023.
You can read it here. (That’s a “gift link” so it should work.)
It is FASCINATING and useful and pretty succinctly sums up where AI is now and how unpredictable it is to determine where it will go.
Toward the end of the column is this paragraph:
The stakes here are material and they are social and they are metaphysical. O’Gieblyn observes that “as A.I. continues to blow past us in benchmark after benchmark of higher cognition, we quell our anxiety by insisting that what distinguishes true consciousness is emotions, perception, the ability to experience and feel: the qualities, in other words, that we share with animals.”
To me, Klein and O’Gieblyn didn’t seem to consider our doubling down on emotions, perception, and feelings to be useful.
(STOP TRYING TO GASLIGHT ME, EZRA! lol/just kidding)
Fast forward to last Saturday, right around when the Pope picture was going viral, I got in the car to go sit in Airlie Gardens among the azaleas and draw, and this “12 Minute Listen” segment of the TED Radio hour was on the radio.
ZOMORODI: Negative hands. Tell me what that is.
VON PETZINGER: Yeah. So a negative hand is when you put the paint into your mouth – been there, done that – but you stick it in your mouth, and you mix it with, like, water, often, or sometimes blood, sometimes other things. And then you put your hand flat on the wall, and you spray it out of your mouth, almost the equivalent of, like, a spray can. This was, like, the paleo spray can, basically. And then when you remove your hand, it leaves the negative outline of the handprint with that wonderful kind of sprayed halo around it.
VON PETZINGER: And this site has almost 100 of them.
These negative hands create a link between me, sitting here in the year 2023 typing on my computer, and someone standing in a cave, hand on the wall, blowing pigment, blood, who knows what else, leaving a mark.
Negative hands conjure a picture of the whole person because to get a real negative hand image 30,000 years ago required a whole person.
Lungs to push air out.
A body to encase the lungs.
A mind to know what to do.
Time to Throw Hands
There isn’t any actual “fighting” AI. It’s here. Horse is out of the barn. Cat is out of the bag. Paint is out of the tube.
When I started my business in December 2007, for $10 a pop I wrote articles about how to grow tomatoes. It was the golden age of content marketing. Nobody really read those articles, other than bots. They were for SEO rankings, not for people.
Today, CHATGPT4 can assemble those articles in 2 minutes.
I say “assemble” because CHATGPT4 doesn’t create anything new.
CHATGPT4 assembles articles and content from existing content. (Including copyrighted content. But that’s another conversation.)
Is this fine for plant descriptions?
To get going?
I mean, sure. It’s another tool. I’ve written about that before.
It isn’t creating anything new, though.
It gathers up everything on the internet and delivers an answer. As reported in the New York Times, March 24, 2023, people are using CHATGPT to help them have hard conversations.
It’s kind of like Quora or Ask Jeeves or polling your friends on Facebook.
No thinking required.
No experiences required.
I find that truly terrifying.
If we hand over all writing, all thinking, all creating to AIthat’s where we’ll end up (that’s actually the safest place we’ll end up).
With the cultural equivalent of turkey sandwiches made from jellyfish.
Nobody wants it
The good thing about our industry is that people still love plants, flowers, and experiences.
They want real. A viral Instagram reel (that I wish I could take credit for), a clear website, a Chamber of Commerce visit, and a lot of hard work planting tulips, and before that, tending a farm, being friendly, and giving people an experience is what’s allowing HvH Specialty growers to, well, grow, into a full time venture.
Real photos are what boosts garden center sales. Customers can tell when a stock photo is used. (Scroll to mid way on that page for research.) Customers are not super trusting of overly photoshopped images. They want pictures that look like what they’re going to see when they come visit. Panoramic farm does a great job providing this.
What that means for us is that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.
It just needs to be real.
If ya got all the way here to wonder, “What’s the point?” the point is, to me, that we still need to, as the youths say, “Touch Grass.”
We haven’t reached the point of jellyfish turkey sandwiches because we don’t want to.
By staying weird, thinking, making connections, learning (YES, LEARNING ABOUT AI), inviting people out for classes, dropping off gorgeous containers, leading tours, opening our gardens, putting our faces in the sun and checking for the presence of shadows, applying the sniff test (literally), and tending flowers, we won’t have to.
If you want more along this here’s a book rec. almost as long as this email:
Wendy Hatoum has joined team GOW as Email Department Director, specializing in ecommerce email and SMS. She’s been with us for a little over a month and we’re so thrilled to have her!
Wendy’s photo is by Jenny Prince.
Here’s a note from Wendy:
I’m Wendy Hatoum, a creative strategist with 20+ years experience in email marketing, communications and e-commerce
.I started my career in publishing, then moved to digital marketing over a dozen years ago, where I project managed the launch of SEO-optimized websites with iMarket Solutions.
I spent 6 years managing all marketing initiatives for High Country Gardens as its brand manager. For three years, I worked as the email marketing manager for Vermont Teddy Bear and PajamaGram, with a strong focus on customer acquisition.
I’m looking forward to working with The Garden of Words team as the Email Marketing Director!
Each newsletter always has a mix of fun and functional links.
Federal Holidays: The Garden of Words is closed on all US Federal holidays.
Fridays: Most of the team is out on Fridays, as well. (Vi and Wendy have intermittent hours on Fridays. Katie and Heather are out.)
Need help? We are available for some projects and connecting industry businesses with trusted providers for others. Grab a call slot here.
What’s your favorite sandwich topping, turkey or otherwise? Have a great sandwich “recipe?” Send it to me!