Please note that the Chatbot was available for the IWMW 2006 event and for a period afterward. This service has now been discontinued.
Chatbots are software applications designed to provide a conversational speech based interface to Web sites and services. They employ various linguistic and artificial intelligence methods to create the illusion of a two-way conversation. Use of chatbots on commercial Web sites has increased over the last few years but the educational sector has yet to make use of this technology on institutional Web sites. A brief history of chatbots is available from Wikipedia. Some of the best known chatbots in current use include Anna on the Ikea Web site, Helen, the Virtual Mortgage Assistant on the Yorkshire Building society Web site, jabberwacky and the ACS chatbots.
The Institutional Web Management Workshop 2006 chatbot is called Brian (named after Brian Kelly, chair of the first nine of the workshops!). You will need a Macromedia Flash plug-in on your PC to view the chatbot, which has been primed with information on the Institutional Web Management Workshop, UKOLN and the city of Bath.
If you have any further questions about the technology involved in the use of a chatbot the DADENLIMITED FAQ is very useful.
Once Brian is on the screen you can ask him questions. You might want to ask some questions about the workshop like "Where will the workshop be?" and "Who will be presenting at the workshop?" or more important questions like "What are the best pubs in Bath?". A few thoughts/questions to bear in mind when trying out the chatbot might be:
David Burden and Marieke Guy will be running a parallel session entitled Chatting with Brain: What do Chatbots have to offer the Education Sector? during the workshop.
Note that this service is provided by an external service. No guarantees are made concerning long-term access.
Acknowledgements are given to Emilce Rees who initially suggested the potential of Chatbots for use on institutional Web sites.