Goliaths Playing At David
How AI fear crushed the indie creator of ProseCraft.io for no good reason
I’m a writer, but this will be a story criticizing writers.
I plan to debut a novel someday, and I know this may hobble my chances. The lit crowd is a close-knit and cliquey sort.
But I’ll do it anyway, because that’s what you do when giants go curb-stomping underdogs.
The demise of ProseCraft.io
ProseCraft was a project that had launched in 2017 and hadn’t actively maintained a blog presence since 2019, so this sudden and acute backlash must’ve been jarring, to say the least.
Even more surprising: ProseCraft.io seemed to just publish summary statistics on novels, with word frequencies and a few exotic metrics like “vividness”.
Not terribly useful, but maybe when plotted on a trend-line over time, or compared across genres, it could uncover some interesting insights. Hard to say without fooling around with it. But it doesn’t seem terribly harmful, either.
Who are all these angry people that came out of the woodwork to rake this random smalltime hacker over the coals?
There are two main buckets I see, here.
Bucket one: the anti-piracy folks. These writers speculated that ProseCraft likely needed full-text novels to run analytics on them, and that such a large database probably wasn’t paid for out-of-pocket by just one dude.
This is a bucket of people I won’t directly address, because we just fundamentally disagree in our values. For purposes like analytics and research—even if that aggregated data is later…