Qblog posted a little experiment with a product blog last week, where the "product" responds to questions. Of course, the "product" can't answer a lot of questions about topics she (I'm assuming this product was a she!) doesn't know about — such as Quixtar. It might be an automated response tool or it might be a real person using canned responses, but either way, it comes off as flat. But it doesn't have to.
Check out Burger King's subservient chicken Web site http://www.subservientchicken.com/. The ads were funny, and the Web site that let you order the chicken around is a riot – but just like any automated function, it has limits. If you ask the chicken to do something simple, like dance or jump on the couch, it will obey. If you ask the chicken to do something chickens shouldn't, wouldn't, or couldn't do, it will either get confused, shift its feet, shrug its shoulders or shake its head "no." If you ask the chicken to split an atom, it tries to do the splits. Ask it to create world peace and it appears to either do a pushup or a lotus yoga pose. Don't even try to get it to speak Portuguese. It will fake a heart attack, but if you ask it to act like it has ADD, it just appears to pick its beak.
And why would anyone do this? To test the limits of the tool.
It's simple human nature…when you build something, someone will try to break it. If you say something will do something, there's someone who will prove it can't or won't. Waterproof will be saturated. Unbreakable will be cracked. Foolproof will be unproven.
Scrutiny often brings improvement. In products, in processes, in tools, in technology, and in people.
But so far, not in virtual poultry!
It's suddenly very cold around Quixtar. Temperatures dipped to the low 40s last night. But, it will warm back up and we expect beautiful weather for tomorrow's Quixtar-sponsored Easter Seals Walk With Me event in Grand Rapids. I'll be out there walking with members of the Beauty Begins with Heart team. For more about these and other Walk With Me events, visit http://www.walkwithme.org/.