A Rennaissance Man

Prompt Engineering's

Best Kept Secret

Prompt engineering is all the rage these days, with companies and individuals claiming expertise in crafting the perfect prompts to get chatbots like Claude to generate high-quality content. But here’s a dirty little secret – most people saying they are prompt experts are posers and liars.

As someone with a background in architecture and web design in the early days of the internet, I’ve seen this pattern before. When CAD first emerged, companies had to decide whether to train existing architects on the new software or hire CAD experts and teach them architecture. The same question applies today – is it better to teach subject matter experts how to write prompts or teach prompt engineers about specific domains?

The truth is that effective prompt engineering requires deep knowledge in multiple areas. You need expertise in the niche you’re targeting, whether that’s architecture, medicine, or poetry. You need rhetorical skills to speak the language models understand. And you need to understand the technical side – linguistics, computational linguistics, philosophy, etc. Prompting isn’t just about stringing words together, it’s about guiding the model with logic and reasoning.

So when looking for help with prompts, don’t just find someone claiming prompt expertise. Find someone who deeply understands your field and has also studied how to effectively prompt. Expertise in prompting alone is useless without domain knowledge. The bots are still like dogs – give them a cookie in the right way and they’ll do the trick. But you have to know what cookie and which trick.

The best prompt engineers combine subject matter mastery with technical linguistics and philosophical reasoning ability. Without competence in all areas, generation will be ineffective or nonsensical. So beware prompt experts bearing no real knowledge. Prompt engineering is its own skill, but not one that can stand alone.

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