Ming the Mechanic:
IM Bots

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 IM Bots2004-04-05 16:40
picture by Flemming Funch

Via Liz Lawley news of Infocom Bots that let you play the great Zork text adventure games over AIM or iChat. It remembers how far you've gotten for next time you come back. That's great fun of course. And it instantly makes me think about all the things you could possibly do with IM bots. Like, I could have a receptionist that answered for me:
"You're in Flemming's entrance hall. Flemming is traveling in Transylvania right now. There's a blog here, and a mailbox, an SMS terminal, and a phone booth. There's a picture on the wall. There's a WIKI path going off to the right. There are three other visitors standing around looking bewildered. What do you want to do?"
And you would go: "Look at picture!" or "Open mailbox!" or "Talk to visitors!". Of course, since it probably knows who you are based on the IM handle, it could be more personalized. You know, "Welcome back Jill, you haven't been here for a week", or "Your shared collaborative blog there, with three NEW postings", or, "There are two notes and a picture for you from Flemming".

Really, I could also use an interface like that myself, if it were wired into my own mail and files and databases, etc. So, if I were on the road I'd just access my personal agent's IM, and it would tell me stuff like:
"There are five phone messages for you, 52 new mail messages, 157 new postings in your aggregator. Your family went to the movies. It is 25 degrees. There are four computers there. On the wall you see a calendar and an address book."
And I'd be able to tell it things like "Search for a file named 'Business Plan' on my computer!" or "Is there any mail from Joe?". And, really, if it can handle that, there wouldn't be such a big step to it doing it based on voice commands. So that I can have a conversation with my own agent. Nothing insurmountable in any of this. Tying various kinds of information together with some Apple scripting or something similar. For that matter, I could already use voice commands on my Mac if I bothered. What's the missing piece? That somebody just ties it all together for me into a killer application?

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