Laying AI-generated header images aside

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
Laying AI-generated header images aside

CSS { In Real Life } | Stop Using AI-Generated Images

By choosing AI-generated images over those made by a human, editors are taking away one of the only sources of income available to those entering the field.

I recently stopped using Midjourney and DALL-E generated images for header images on this site. No, not for the reason listed in this post (I’ve never had budget to pay someone for artwork, so I wasn’t taking anything away from anyone), but for the simple reason that they’ve quickly become just plain tacky.

Blog posts with header images famously do a better job of catching people’s attention in social media feeds, so it seems like a no brainer to generate a unique one for every post, right?

Well it turns out that these hero images didn’t make the post look more enticing, it just made the post feel cheap. I would bet most people reading this site can look at an image and guess with extremely high accuracy whether it was made by a human or a robot. People are already very tuned into “that Midjourney aesthetic” and they just know it when they see it at this point.

Maybe I’m just projecting here, and in the past 9-ish months doing this I’ve only gotten 2 notes from people saying they don’t like them, but it’s just the vibe I have right now. Especially as we move into a world where it’s easier than ever to generate fake writing from fake writers, it’s not unreasonable for readers to see a fake header image and wonder how much of the rest of the post is actually created by the author. I don’t want anyone thinking about that when they come to my site for the first time.

As I’ve said before in various ways, I love other humans but I’ll never have anyone else write for this blog. I only like computers, so there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to offload posts to them.

The inevitable exceptions

I think image generators are still useful for creating assets in images that I create. A fake website, icon, background, or other random element for an image I’m working on can be super useful and can be added to an image without getting “that Midjourney aesthetic”.

I also still may make a fully-generated image on the rare occasion if it makes sense. For example, if I’m writing about DALL-E, it might make sense to illustrate something with a full image from DALL-E.

So yeah, I expect websites that use nothing but AI-generated hero images to look like low-quality content farms in the near future, and that’s not what I want this site to resemble at all.