Crash Test Dummies of Communication

Leena Saarinen

April 2001

Submitted on the program of Master of Arts at the
Media Lab, The University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH


This is a research of graphical multi-user communication environments. I have studied the interactive behavior of and between humans and chatterbots. First I will describe the emotional and behavioral impacts that a chatterbot can provoke in users as individuals and as members of a group. Sometimes it is not self-evident to recognize who in a chat room is a bot and who is human. This is due to the limits and possibilities of digital interface, which effects on conversations I will analyze in detail. Current interfaces seem to support comic chatterbots that are coarse caricatures in comparison to interactive characters that would have more discreet personality. Additionally I will describe two incidents that have shaken the discursive order of one particular community. As a conclusion of these cases and my notions about chatterbots I will end up emphasizing the importance of entertainment and drama in cyberspace as one of the reasons why people log on in the first place.

Tutors: Merja Puustinen and Minna Tarkka

Examiners: John Hopkins and Frans Mäyrä

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