The main thing to report this week is the very interesting meeting I had with Silvana and Luis of Beta Technologies. The meeting was about exploring how technically feasible our ideas are for using bot technology within the project and to explore whether or not they would be able to help us implement them. We are essentially interested in three types of bots which are (a) a virtual tour guide, (b) animated Victorians bots as a backdrop and (c) chat bots, e.g. that welcome participants and hand them guidebooks and reveal information during game-like activities.

Both Luis and Silvana seemed very knowledgeable not only in the technical matters I was consulting them about but also relevant aspects of history. It seems our ideas for using bots are indeed technically possible and Luis and Silvana were very interested to work with us to implement them. However, it is apparent that there is a lot of work involved and we are likely to be restricted by the relatively small amount of funding we have available for external consultancy. When Shelley is back from the States, I will send a prioritised breakdown of what we need so they can cost each part separately and we can see what can be achieved. Time will also be a factor as they do not anticipate being able to have anything ready (i.e. fully tested) by August 2009. Saying that, some parts might be available earlier, e.g. bots dressed as Victorians standing about the model as a backdrop.

The meeting was also an interesting add-on to my experiences of last week’s workshop in the sense that it took place within Secondly Life using text-based communication. I found it quiet strange participating in a more formal meeting in Second Life. Communication seemed very slow and I often missed their messages when writing a long message of my own. I also made endless typos compared with Silvana and Luis who are obviously far more used to communicating in this way. Still, the meeting was both productive and very enjoyable.


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