The folks at AOL are at it again. If you’ve signed on to AOL Instant Messenger, or any meta contact messenger like Trillian or Pidgin within the last day, you have undoubtedly noticed several new AOL bots.
What’s a bot, you ask? In the instant messaging sense, it is more specifically referred to as a chatterbot. Chatterbots have been around for some time now, with one of the more popular ones – SmarterChild dating itself back to 2001. They are systems employing a scripts that attempt to hold human conversations with users. The programmers usually put in some fun elements of these bots (i.e. if you said something off-color, smarterchild would tell you to behave, etc).
So people got used to smarterchild. Even users that had no buddies now had someone to talk to.
Then, AOL mysteriously loaded in MovieFone (self-explanatory) and ShoppingBuddy. These really started to smell like a sellout.
But now, hey – we’ve been blessed with 3 new bots dropped in on our lists:
Prof Gilzot – this guy has no sense of humor. At least on smarterchild you could test his limits and ask him odd questions. The Prof is a straight up fellow. Say something different, and he just gives you a list of items to choose from. In any case, he has quizzes and things like that to offer you. I think I liked smarterchild’s wit, charm, and a good game of hangman over this guy.
WSJ – ok this one makes sense. You like the Wall Street Journal online. You like instant messaging. But them together and you’ve got WSJ. This is acceptable, but again doesn’t appeal to the entire community. Still, sending an IM to WSJ, typing news, and finding the news I want is still pretty slow in comparison to going to Google News RSS or straight out website.
“My name is Spleak and I’m a 21-year-old virtual girl currently living in the heart of San Francisco, California.”
Ok, this is getting a bit scary. What’s the point of this bot? Every guy has a date now? Come on. But to each their own.