The Atomic Playboy and the Radiation Romeo

The button below will open a new browser window displaying the Flash interface for Atomic and Romeo (Version 16 with Preloader). You will find a page of introductory text, some instructions and then the interface where you can suggest a topic for conversation.

This version 16 uses the landscape layout, updates the heckler and end-of-conversation functions with an audio sign-off. All the features from previous versions remain - scroll bar control,custId variable allows me to better log and track conversations.

The chat-bots are hosted on the Pandorabots server under the Shared Service subscription. Please note, the terms of the Updated Policy Guidelines for Free Community Server state that the “Use of automated scripts to make your pandorabot talk to itself or another bot or script” is proscribed (Pandorabots 2011). This project is being developed with the agreement of the Pandorabots Inc management and we would like to acknowledge their support. ( Pandorabots )

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After you have had a play with Atomic and Romeo please use this link to leave a comment.
Maybe you could suggest a topic of conversation or a layout suggestion.
All suggestions gratefully received.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Some comments on comments

This entry is about how I try to integrate the comments I've received into my production process. These comments, good bad and indifferent, all have a role to play and I am truly grateful for them. It is not meant to be a cheap justification for what how I write or for the quality (lack thereof?) of what I've written. Rather, it's about what I do with these comments.

A couple of the comments have referred to the problem of repetition - the characters deliver the same material. As Chris said, "... I basically concluded that I could probably just mash the keyboard with my forehead and get a similar result". Paul and others echoed this comment.

So what do I actually "do" with that feedback? Below are some of the changes implemented in Version12.
  • My initial reactions was to starting looking at how Atomic responds to topics he has no response for - "I have no answer for that". I re-read and re-considered an earlier post where I said I actually liked that response for two reasons. First, it is machine-like, I like the Brechtian moment of alienation, it "tells" the user that they are dealing with a machine. Second, it can stand, at least for the moment, as a catch-phrase. This is akin to an in-joke (Carr and Greaves, 2007, p. 131).
  • Next I started to consider what topics Atomic and Romeo could not actually cover. When I was first working on them I spent most of my time generating scripts that would run when Atomic said, "I have no answer for that". The reality is, as a ratio, there will always be more topics he knows nothing about than ones he has a response for. This seemed funny to me so I wrote a script about it - it's one of Romeo's responses to "I have no answer for that". If you type in "Make a list of everything you don't know" you'll see the script play out. In the post titled "I have no answer for that" (Wednesday, August 1, 2012) there is a diagram showing the structure I used.
  • Finally I went to the chat logs and, after fixing a bit coding to help me generate better logs, I generated a list of the topics people had entered. They now form a to-do list of topics. Very useful. One of the classic heckler line for a stand-up comedian is to yell, "Say something funny". Without a list, working in a vacuum, thinking of something funny to write is difficult. The list is a constraint that enables work to get done.
 One of the really positive things that I've taken from the comments so far is that the comments could all have been leveled at a human performer - too much repetition, insufficient responsiveness to the audience, the performance appears too 'scripted', once you've heard it - you've heard it. This is the nature of comedy performance - it is a crafted activity that develops over time.

"Some comedy audiences refuse to believe the material is prepared at all, expecting comedians to produce a new set of jokes every night, as though they were evangelists speaking in tongues" (Carr and Greaves, 2007, p. 113).
Carr, Jimmy, and Lucy Greaves. 2007. The Naked Jape: Uncovering the hidden world of jokes. London: Penguin Books.

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