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Meet Claude 🦄 A helpful new AI assistant
How to make the most of ChatGPT's new alternative
Claude has surprising capabilities, including a couple you won’t find in the free version of ChatGPT.
Since this new AI bot launched on July 11, I’ve found Claude useful for summarizing long transcripts, clarifying complex writings, and generating lists of ideas and questions. It also helps me put unstructured notes into orderly tables. For some things, I prefer Claude to ChatGPT. Read on for Claude’s strengths and limitations, and ideas for using it creatively.
Claude is a new bot similar to ChatGPT that can read, understand and act on text you feed it or files you upload.
You can ask Claude questions on any topic and get immediate answers. That’s because, like ChatGPT, it’s been trained on huge amounts of info. You can use it free at Claude.ai.
It's not a search engine. It's more like a powerful robotic brain.
It can combine bits of information in ways that might take a group of humans many hours. It can analyze files you give it and generate any kind of writing.
The startup behind Claude has $1.5 billion in funding
Claude is made by Anthropic, a startup with more than $400 million in funding from Google, one of its partners. Anthropic was founded by Daniela and Dario Amodei, siblings who used to work at OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT.
Two areas where Claude outshines ChatGPT
Claude can analyze up to 75,000 words at a time.
You can ask Claude to analyze, summarize, translate or answer questions about huge amounts of information — even an entire book. It accepts up to about 75,000 words for analysis. That's 10 times as much as ChatGPT can manage.
Why that's useful: I asked Claude to summarize the full transcript of an hourlong workshop I led and to highlight notable questions, comments and resources shared in the accompanying online chat that I might have missed. The useful analysis that took Claude 10 seconds to generate gave me a fresh perspective on the session, directed my attention to several chat comments I had missed, and yielded a summary resource I could share with attendees. ChatGPT, by contrast, said the transcript was too long for it to analyze.
Claude's free version allows you to attach documents for analysis. ChatGPT's doesn't.
Claude lets you attach multiple files and direct the bot on aspects you want to analyze. You can give it multiple articles or even a book you have in PDF form, for example, and ask it all sorts of questions about the writing. You can even ask it to coach you on the tactics or concepts in a resource guide or scholarly paper.
Why that's useful: You can ask Claude to identify patterns in the writing, find connections between this content and something else, run statistical analysis on data, or suggest multiple ways to visualize data referenced.
ChatGPT, by contrast, doesn't let you attach files except through one of its plugins, which requires a $20 monthly subscription to ChatGPT Plus. Claude lets you do so with its free beta service, though its pricing may change in the future.
5 ways to use Claude
1. Summarize meeting notes
Anytime you have unprocessed notes from a meeting, a conference, or a brainstorming session, you can paste them or upload them to Claude and ask for a summary or an analysis of key points.
You can add Claude’s new AI chatbot to any channel in a paid Slack account and it can summarize a long thread or a series of conversations. It can also answer questions that come up in a channel or provide its own list of ideas or questions.
3. Spark creativity
My family played a game recently making up euphemisms for life’s small irritations. Afterwards I challenged Claude to follow suit, prompting it with “liquid sunshine” as an optimistic way of looking at rain. It came up with several fun ones:
Traffic jam = Car cuddle
Mosquito bites = Uninvited nibbles
Mud = Earth sauce
Bills = Financial fan mail
Alarm clock = Morning motivator
Papercut = Paper kiss
Shoveling snow = Winter weightlifting
ChatGPT 4’s euphemisms were also good when I gave it the same prompt I had given to Claude, and it responded faster and with a longer list.
4. Construct an information table
I like structuring messy, complex info into tables that are scannable and organized. Claude helps me do so. I asked Claude to summarize recent articles on “ungrading” I uploaded and to provide clarifying examples. It gave me helpful guidance and a simple, helpful reference table.
Another example: After the most recent live show and tell event I hosted for Wonder Tools members, Claude helped me summarize all the links I shared in a neat table, and even added links to each tool’s name. (Notion AI also does that well).
5. Generate an outline
Give Claude something you’ve written in the past, a PDF slide deck, or raw notes you’ve made on a topic. Ask it to create an outline for you that you can then expand upon.
For example: I uploaded a PDF of some slides I was working on and asked Claude to create an outline of my key points, annotate each point with a fuller explanation from my own writing, and put the resulting material into a table. About 5 seconds later, I had the resulting table in my notes, which I used to organize the rest of my talk.
Why that’s useful: Claude isn't just pulling unsourceable information from its vast swaths of training data. Instead, it's applying analysis to my own words or ideas. That's why Claude and other AI bots like it will be crucial assistants in my workflow going forward.
What’s YOUR favorite use of AI so far? Share below👇
I asked Claude to do basic multiplication after it assured me it could do so accurately. Its calculations were at first slightly off, then wildly off. I’ll rely on ChatGPT's Wolfram Alpha plugin for any sequence of calculations that isn’t easier to do on a calculator or spreadsheet.
You can generate images now with Bing's AI chat, Google Bard and ChatGPT plugins, not to mention AI image services like Midjourney and Adobe Firefly. But Claude doesn't yet have image generation capabilities.
Claude confabulates in surprising ways. For instance, when I asked the Slack bot version about its capabilities, it made things up, claiming it could set timers or discuss contemporary events. Fortunately, caveats appear in Slack reminding you that Claude may exaggerate its capabilities.
I’m reluctant to rely on Claude for factual research tasks because it often embellishes or invents. When I asked it about CUNY’s Newmark Grad School of Journalism, where I teach — and where we just opened applications for our new 100-day online Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program cohort— Claude provided a mostly-accurate overview but then made up some alums. That’s why I generally stick to the kinds of AI tasks noted above, like summarization, synthesis, creativity sparking, and table generation.
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Note from Jeremy: I’m writing this post from my home in New York City, before traveling for 2 weeks with my wife and 2 daughters. I’m scheduling next week’s newsletter in advance. I’ll be slow to respond to comments or emails because I’m spending time with my family— away from tech and tools! 😬 🌞
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