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Cape Ray publishes ChatGPT book of poetry

Anne Osmond holds the book of poems, written with the help of an online artifical intelligence program called ChatGPT. – Submited photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CAPE RAY— The Cape Ray Lighthouse Committee has begun using a new form of technology to help them produce a project which will help showcase the rich history of the community, and allow all generations to enjoy what Cape Ray has to offer. Using an AI program called ChatGPT, the organization created a book of poetry that tells the story of Cape Ray, then laminated the poems and formatted them into books, which are now available for purchase. “I do the poems and I always say it’s like making a milkshake. You get your blender, you stick your ingredients in, and you get your milkshake,” said Wayne Osmond, who is on the committee. “I’m only scratching the surface of it. This (ChatGPT) was launched the last day in November 2022, and within a few weeks they had a million users – it took Netflix years to get that many – and right now they have over 100 million users and it’s getting better every day, as time is going by. It’s remarkable. It learns from the people who input things. I ask it to compose a poem of Cape Ray about horses, for example, and I tell it a bit of history about the horses in Cape Ray, and then it generates it and if you don’t like it, you can ask it to try it in another style.” The Lighthouse Committee is selling the poetry books for $15 each to help recoup the cost of making the books, and all funds will go back into the committee to buy more supplies for other projects. “We already have people that want it,” said Osmond. “Another thing we’ve done, because there are only two of us in the museum, and I remember that one day there was over 20 people in the museum, and you can’t talk to everybody. Some people just go out the door and we lose donations that way, so we’ve done up books and put them by the displays. We have a (S.S.) Caribou display, so I’ve done up a book on the Caribou. We have a Paleo-Eskimo site display, and we just do up the books to keep them around.” There are also plans to include more French in the future. “One of the books on the Paleo display, I decided to use French in it also, the first bilingual book to try it, because about 40 per cent of our visitors were from Quebec last year. I think in the next year or so we might have all of our displays in both French and English.” French translation will be used for more than just the books. “Last year we had a lot of French visitors and we sort of felt ashamed being unable to communicate things to them, so I ran the description of the displays through it, asked it to turn it over to French, and a friend of mine who is French-Canadian, I sent it to him and asked him to check it out and he said it’s perfect, the best translation he’s ever seen. We tried it through Google before and we never seemed to get it right.” Since the committee announced the book, supporters have been requesting a copy. “We put it up on our Cape Ray site (Facebook) and a lot of people want the book. I’m getting a lot of messages,” said Osmond. “We also put local pictures in with the poems, things like that.” It didn’t take a lot of time to get the book ready for sale. “To sit down, cut and laminate the sheets, put the book together, it probably takes 15 minutes or so per book, if we’re lucky,” said Osmond. Those who purchase a book will find poetry spanning various aspects of Cape Ray’s rich heritage. “We did a poem on the bakeapples, a poem on the periwinkle. Sitting down with this AI program we can do a poem about anything,” said Osmond. “We even have a poem about a midwife we had. We have a picture of her because she was my great-great grandmother. We did a little poem on that. Whatever we thought was interesting, we just did it.” The hope is to keep the project going. “We’d like to get another volume out next year. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to keep people interested,” said Osmond. “We might even do a children’s book of poetry too.” Projects like this can help revitalize the interest in the history of rural NL communities. “I used to be a railroader before the railroad closed, and the kids here will never hear the train. Anybody 35 or below has never heard the train passing through our community, and some have never seen the horses. We used to have 25 to 30 horses around the community a few years back. All this is gradually going, so by putting this in the form of books, of poems, I think it will help people look back on the history.” This is one step in the larger picture for the committee who want to see more visitors in Cape Ray. “Most of the people who come to Cape Ray usually drop in on their way back from across the island and if we can do it, we are going to try to entice them to come to Cape Ray first. We want to do up some brochures to put on the boats, out with the tourism department, because we had people come out last year from Margaree and they had never been to Cape Ray,” said Osmond. “And hopefully we’ll be able to get enough money later on to develop around the lighthouse. Right now, when people ask if they can park there overnight we say yes, but there’s no clean drinking water out there and they have to come to the fire hall to get that. It would be nice to have clean, drinking water out there.”

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