Previously: Spreadsheet parties, chatbots, William Gibson’s jacket (w/e 18 June)

10.06, Friday 18 Jun 2021

Three recommended blog posts from the archives, originally published this week in years gone by.

1 year ago

From the other side of the bridge (12 June 2020).

There’s a story about William Gibson’s jacket. In his book Pattern Recognition he confabulates a jacket for the protagonist, Cayce, in a colourway that never existed.

And where it ends up: Both the molecular structure of benzene and the molecular structure of DNA were brought back from dreams.

Filtered for hallway tracks and spreadsheet parties (15 June 2020).

So if we’re doing conference talks on video now, how do we do the hallway track? And should the two remain bundled together?

I still haven’t seen a virtual events platform which gets the spontaneous, in-between nature of the conference hallway track. This is a “Filtered for…” post which means it has lots of external links.

Also this is an idea I should come back to:

Personal theory: as we’re at home more, and smartphones ebb, the technology that succeeds will be the technology that facilitates multi-tasking.

6 years ago

On conversational UIs (16 June 2015).

My point, I guess, is that a new medium needs a new grammar and conversational UIs are definitely a new medium.

For one – they’re intrinsically social. If I’m chatting with a bot in iMessage about what movies are on nearby, shouldn’t I be able to turn that into a group chat with my partner? And does the bot conduct two separate conversations, one with each of us, or assume we’re both searching for the same movie?

Remember chat bots? They were going to be huge. Hey and it might still happen! Large language models (i.e. GPT-3 and the like) are making natural language easy for computers, and conversational user interfaces make a ton more sense if we’re using smart watches and smart ear buds instead of phones.

This post still gets a bunch of traffic and it’s a fun read – it has a ton of examples of different conversational UIs, and breaks down the challenges in making conversation the primary interface.

Personal favourites selected from this week’s On This Day archive spelunking page. This is an experiment to see how to best surface older ideas in the current feed in a meaningful way, and I’m trying it as a regular Friday feature. Keep-going/why-not-try-this-instead feedback welcome.

More posts tagged:

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it by email or on social media. Here’s the link. Thanks, —Matt.