ChatGPT Defines Techno-Vernacular Creativity & Innovation

Nettrice Gaskins
3 min readFeb 2

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Yung Jake’s emoji art

ChatGPT — an OpenAI chatbot — generates text based on the input it is given… and it’s all the rage in scholarly circles. The program uses a deep learning technique called transformer architecture to sift through several terabytes of data that contain billions of words to create answers to prompts or questions.

ChatGPT’s first attempt

Out of curiosity I asked ChatGPT to “define Techno-Vernacular Creativity” and I was pleasantly surprised by the bot’s response (see above). This is very much a passable attempt and does not copy/paste any of my own words (I coined the term and published the book). To up the ante, so to speak, I requested that the bot provide some TVC examples and I was not disappointed.

The bot’s second attempt with examples

When I saw the examples I was reminded of Yung Jake’s emoji-based artwork (see top image). I have long considered the computational aspects of jazz and funk music and it’s proliferation in hip hop. PBS Voices recently posted a video about the links between hip hop and VR. And, of course, there is the work of Stephanie Dinkins who has explored AI and storytelling.

ChatGPT did pretty well with definitions and short essays but it was too formulaic with theme outlines. I think teachers will be able to spot those or they can use detector programs. My approach (as a teacher) would be to encourage remixing, to get deeper into themes than the bot can. There are more examples of TVC in the book and as well as common elements or sub-themes shared by certain projects that the chatbot would miss.

[R]egardless of other trends that may come and go, the “three C’s” — collaboration, camaraderie and competition — are embedded deep within the roots of rap music. This ensures cyphers, posse tracks and the like will continue to be musical events all generations will continue to enjoy as an integral part of hip-hop culture. — Roderick Pullum

VR rap cypher idea via Midjourney

If anything, the use of ChatGPT helps me with discovery of possible themes or projects, and ideation. For example, I’m planning a project that explores the adaptation of VR technology into new cultural and creative practices. I used Midjourney to envision what I hope to see when the project is implemented. Embracing the technology has helped me better understand the possibilities/benefits and limitations of AI.

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Nettrice Gaskins

Nettrice is a digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM education.