Blog #3 Class Discussion/ James McBride !

Taking a look at the notes from the class discussion last week I see a theme was mainly the topic of Voice in writing. Voice in writing can be interpreted differently by each person. For me it mean to capture what my minds eye is trying to re create into words. The voice in my head is met by paper and pen (or keyboard) and I am able to express my thoughts and feelings more comfortably and effortlessly. It is great as a writer to always feel the need to create and how simple it is to just use my voice to express myself.

The experiment question that was asked in class stated “What is the difference between high school and college?” My answer would be a couple of things. First is academically the work because a bit more demanding in ways, but then in time can be quite effective because you have more time to complete assignments outside of your classes in college. I think responsibilities may change from high school to college. For instance in my high school experience I only focused on sports, cheerleading and volleyball, and school work. When I entered my junior year of college I started working full time and do school full time in college, so my time and responsibility at the time changed.

The ChatGPT offers a great resource to spark inspiration, but it can also take away from the human ability to be create and think of the impossible which makes great literature. I asked it the experience question and it gave the response pictured below:

It gave part of my answer and continued on the point out the classes and how they are more focused and intense with subject. I noticed I went more off of my personal opinion of how I interpreted high school and college differences. This is what I feel we may lose as we continue to grow the AI and Writing culture and learn how to mesh them. Let’s still be able to have our Voice heard, but always have somewhere to go to find out facts without opinion. This coming Thursday the class is going to see James McBride speak on campus. We read an article giving us some of his life facts in his chat he did on the radio. He is from Brooklyn New York and grew up where he was always responsible for him having a lot of siblings. His mother was white, but all of his brothers and sisters were black, which gave him a great outlook on life, and how people treat others. All of this helped him to shape his writing voice and he has some of his best material in works read by a wide audience. He uses his voice to give his opinion on the situations he has experienced, which makes it great for readers to better understand and relate to the author.

The Two Questions I may ask:

Do you believe politics, culture, or bias has a huge impact on the way you chose to write your material?

When did you first develop your true interest in writing?

I’m excited to be hearing him speak this week and can’t wait to hear what we learn.


While it seems that ChatGPT might help to pick up on the pragmatic points in writing on certain topics, there was still a lack of experience to what we compared in class– our own pieces and the list that the AI developed. There’s a major shift in tone, language use, and overall meaning. Sure, what ChatGPT developed has meaning that we can comprehend, but I’m talking about a different kind of meaning here: intention. I spent much of my last blog speaking on that word as well, so I won’t go too much into it specifically here.

Intention often stems from experience. Perhaps this is the word I’ll camp out on today. There was information, but there was no true experience in the writing of the AI, yet we found so many different perspectives on what makes either high school or college better than the other. Below is a screenshot of my own 7-minute comparison between high school and college:

And if I had the chance to go on, I would likely talk about how in high school, we shared a strange but slight bond over that experience of rolling our eyes at that one classic line our teachers would pull about what we should expect our college professors to be like. There isn’t much to bond everyone together like that in college. If you aren’t close to someone, you likely will never talk to them even once about a small thing like that unless you’re a complete extrovert that gets to know everyone on campus. There are two main issues with that though: 1) everyone gets socially exhausted at some point whether it’s recognized by the individual or not and 2) that’s hard to do in larger schools such as Kean which, in Fall 2021, had just an undergrad enrollment of about 10,500. (The second point really depends on the school though, as it was a bit easier to at least know of almost everyone on campus at my freshman year institution with a Fall 2021 enrollment under 3,000.)

AI doesn’t experience, but rather it calculates and stores data. While I’m sure a majority of us have heard the classic “your college professors won’t tolerate this” line from a high school teacher, regardless of where any of us went to high school, it’s not a piece of data that we would typically include in a formal, technical, and calculated comparative piece. It’s more of something we would write about as a subjective experience, even though many of us have heard it– I’m almost certain about that one. It’s similar to the bathroom situations that many of us encountered (though I admit, the experience with that at my high school was quite a bit different for a number of reasons). In high school, we probably all had to ask to use the bathroom or get a hall pass– in my case, we would do that and go figure out which one was unlocked for all the girls to use while the guys rarely had that issue of only one bathroom being unlocked, then likely get in trouble for taking so long.

So while this may be statistically significant data because it’s such a common high school experience, it’s not the kind of data that a school includes on its website, or that reports like or US News would typically mention. While ChatGPT utilizes the entirety of the internet as its brain, for comparative or analytical questions especially, it’s reasonable that it would mainly rely on these often-cited resources as its algorithm would then likely deem it as a reliable source on the topic.

And yes, one could argue that the internet is, to some extent, a summation of human experience and knowledge. But lets be real with that even: how much of the real human experience do we actually include on the internet? Even if we could tell ChatGPT to write something based on our own websites for these blog posts (which you can’t, I’ve tried), there is still only so much of our lives shown on here, on Instagram, on TikTok, on Snapchat, or even on BeReal despite the purpose of BeReal being an attempt at breaking that barrier.

And even if our entire experience was some data set that this algorithm could draw from for data, how often does life go in a direction that can be easily, rationally calculated? The number of times that God’s surprised me with money I didn’t know how I’d get to be able to pay for school or my car… the number of times I’ve been overcome with an inexplicable peace in the midst of some of the most chaotic or grievous times in my life… the number of times I’ve been able to speak before a crowd of people despite my mildly crippling social anxiety… you can calculate a prediction, but you cannot calculate an experience.

As for James McBride, while we were first talking about him in class I looked him up and was intrigued by the titles he’s published thus far. I read through the multiple synopses of his books, and the question popped into my head: how has faith– whether in God, people, or just in general– shaped McBride as an author and artist (considering he’s a musician as well)? Even just looking at the titles the question came up– Deacon King Kong… Miracle at St. Anna (and the cover art for this one)… The Good Lord Bird… even looking at the synopsis for The Color of Water I noticed some details involving Christian culture, though McBride was raised by a Jewish mother.

And I suppose that the other would be this: what would you say has been the most formative experience to you as a writer? I’m always one for a good testimony, which is why I think I’ll be checking out The Color of Water once I get the time to sit and read, probably sometime after I finish at least one more of the unread, brand new books I’ve had for about a year now.