Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Interaction with virtual 'help' characters on the web or intranet

Jane McConnell has written an interesting post about 'spleak' a virtual character interface for knowledge base type of questions.

Now the idea of using instant messaging software to interact with a company knowledge base is fantastic (on a website or intranet).

But why do we need some cheesy cartoon character to help us do it?

If the spleak guys lose the fluff then I think they're on to something good.

I can see it being great with kids or young teens on commercial or character driven sites but am unsure of whether adult users will not find it somewhat silly. Reactionary me would not deal with a business that made me interact with a cartoon.

Jane mentions a few 'characters' she's seen on company intranets (too much time on internal comms hands I'd say) and thinks the concept can be a good one.

I'd agree the concept of the interaction is a good one but think the characterisation of the interface is flawed. Keeping in mind that it is simply a character placed over what would be a standard knowledge base type of tool with answers generated from a database.

I'm sure some organisations would love it but it opens lots of room for cynicism and criticisim in an area that generally has a hard time building credibility with the wider organisation anyway.

One thing it does highlight is that there are an increasingly growing number of tools and devices becoming available as the enterprise jumps on the web 2.0 bandwagon.

It sure will keep things interesting for those of dealing with it at ground level.

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