gogolchat by amy alexander

Gogolchat is a bot whose dialogue is gathered from web texts. It actually responds to what you write, but with dialogue gathered from the web – and so it takes on the web’s “personality.” One finds oneself in the familiar Eliza-patient situation: asking Gogolchat questions, expecting sterile, generic, occasionally logical AI responses incorporating one’s questions. But the web isn’t written by an algorithm; it’s written by humans. Still, on the web, humans often don’t write quite humanly; Gogolchat’s dialect is definitely webspeak.

Gogolchat necessarily has a short attention span, rambling from topic to topic in a fairly schizophrenic manner. This might seem a predictable characteristic for a project like this – but what’s nice is that its continual text interruptions are themselves interrupted by images, web forms, etc. That sort of technique could easily turn into random mishmosh, but Gogolchat astutely uses timing and formal visual characteristics in a way that makes the graphical elements seem like performative interventions. Gogolchat manages to take advantage of the quirkiness and randomness of the web and promote its personality, rather than falling into sterility or nihilism.

by Amy Alexander


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