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It’s a Bot Bot World

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Building on last year’s F8 announcement of “Businesses on Messenger”, Facebook will probably be announcing the next phase of the project by releasing its chat bot development framework during this week’s F8 conference. Facebook will be releasing new SDKs and APIs to enable developers to create their own bots on the Messenger platform allowing businesses to access Messenger’s network of over 900 million users.

There’s been lots of activity and press in recent months regarding bots. Currently, we’re seeing the most activity and development happening within messaging platforms, but that’ll change over time. At some point, you’ll begin to see bot-engined experiences replace entire mobile applications and websites, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. To be clear, it’s a really noisy time with lots of chatter about bots and what they can do for you. Here, according to me, is what you need to know about bots:

Is this technology new?

No. A basic example of a bot would be very similar to the classic Google alert that you’d get in your email. In this example, you would tell the bot what you want to keep track of and then you’d receive regular updates about that topic on your device(s). Telegram, for example, has a bot that will send Techcrunch news to your Telegram app. Pretty simple — for now. Facebook and other platforms that house years and years of user-generated data will be able to support bots that could conceivably do all sorts of things, like recommend food for you to cook based on the Like/Hearts/Smiles that you gave those annoying quick cooking video things that never work for me.

Are bots going to replace me at work?

Maybe.

I get the sense that you don’t like the word “bot.” How should everyone refer to these things?

Very perceptive of you. “Bots” is kind of a corny name for something that represents a potential fundamental shift in the way we’ll go about getting stuff done and interacting with one another. I like what Phil Libin calls them — “Conversational UX.” It’s not just about you telling a “bot” what to do, but it is about the way in which you interact with things. Whereas before, you would have to understand what a swipe meant and know its intended result or you would have to lose weight in your thumb to better interact with the buttons on a mobile app. Those days will be things of the past, thankfully. I know “Conversational UX” is a mouthful, so you can keep using “bot” if you want. I understand.

Where can find a list of bots?

In addition to the Facebook bot directory for Messenger that I’m assuming will be released soon, you can see some pretty good lists here:

Worth pointing out, the quality of these bots will be all over the map as things settle down and as vetting processes become more efficient/cleaner. So, installer beware.

What color is a bot’s soul?

Dijon mustard yellow. Same consistency too.

.:: You’re Welcome ::.

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