SitePal - virtual people for your website. I’m posting this again - even though it’s in the archives from a year or so ago because I’m sure you dont dig through the archives much :)
This is an application which allows you to create a nifty flash - based virtual character for embedding in your website. It also can speak and do other interesting things. This would be great if you could combine something like this with say an IRC chat environment where everyone had one of these as avatars. [CogWorks News]
A big problem with these things for use in live person-to-person chat interfaces is that they’re slow (by virtue of the fact that they’re speaking much slower that a person can read), cumbersome (in memory, screen real-estate, network and cpu usage) and worst of all: noisy. Imagine 40 people in a chat room, or even 5, all of which have audible avatars. It’s complete chaos.
Back when all the “cyberspace” buzzwords were emerging along with things like VRML, people tried really hard to have 3d flythrough environments that would model real space, assuming that the computer would then be more of a natural extension to our everyday lives. But being forced to navigate “simulated real space” through an interface layer that re-inserted an abstraction layer is cumbersome. It’s not the best way to retrieve or manage information.
Look at the ActiveWorlds environment for instance (that’s “worlds” not “words)”. It’s this “vast” 3d world where you can do all the virtual homesteading you could want. But there’s really no advantage to the world metaphor outside the coolness factor (which is considerable, I grant you.) If you know where you want to go, you address that location (in any of several ways.) If you don’t know, you search. Eyeballing it is radically inefficient.
The “make it just like keyboard controlled reality” idea doesn’t particularly help the newbie learn how to use the computer any more than Microsoft Bob did. But I digress horribly.
Ananova is kinda fun as a toy, but I really don’t want my news read to me online. (Tellingly, even Ana herself seems to have been marginalized on her own site.) I’m not even gonna start about the friggin paperclip fiasco.
I really intended this to be an “ooh, look how cool” post. But the more I think about it the more I realize that when I’m done oohing and aahhhing over it, I’d never look at it again, except perhaps to have it read research papers to me out loud while I’m in the other room baking. But then, why would I need the graphics?