Bots and automated characters are going to be the first kind of digital media we explore in this Autumn’s classes. Obviously we’ll look at Eliza and read some of what her creator, Weizenbaum, wrote about her in the sixties. My daughter’s lent me one of her interactive dolls for the students to play with, too. It’s fascinating seeing how 100 spoken phrases and a basic motion sensor gives the illusion of personality. I’ve been exploring AIM bots too. Liz wrote about SmarterChild, which I’m rather enjoying, and Runabot.com both lists other AIM bots you can chat with and explains how to build your own. I also found The Jack Principles, of the Interactive Conversation Interface (iCi), provide a set of rules for creating believable interactive characters. The same company have demos of telephone bots, for instance Katie who takes orders for a mail order company. Though of course this is a planned demo it’s amazing. Katie the bot even suggests an alternative for an item that’s out of stock, saying she bought one of these dresses for her niece and her niece loves it! A robotic niece, I assume.