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Games, Diversions & Perl Culture by Jon Orwant

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Chapter 13. Infobots and Purl

Kevin Lenzo

   <JUM> Whenever I set it to not autoload images with
         Netscape 2.01, the whole program locks up.
         Anyone know why?
<Irving> no
   <JUM> Does anyone know where I can get Netscape 2.0????
   <url> i think netscape 2.0 is at
         ftp://archive.netscape.com/archive/index.html
   <JUM> I am forever grateful, Url.
   <JUM> Url: Are you running ver 2.01 with success?
   <url> jum: bugger all, i dunno
   <JUM> OK.
   <JUM> Thanks, Url
   <url> de nada, jum

You’ve probably heard about the Turing test, the Loebner prize, or other contests that measure how much a program can act like a human. Chapter 12 discussed Chatbot::Eliza, a module that behaves like a Rogerian therapist. Instead of asking how intelligent a program can be, let’s explore the usefulness of impersonating a human. Enter the infobot: an autonomous program that converses with users. Infobots are an ongoing experiment in how we can interact as communities with a common institutional memory. If that sounds too grandiose, think of it as a study in interactive graffiti.

IRC

The infobots first appeared on the EFNet (Eris-Free Net) Internet Relay Chat (IRC) in June of 1995. On IRC, people talk to one another (typically, to entire groups of people) in channels, each devoted to a particular topic. When a user creates a channel, he or she becomes a channel operator, which gives them powers over other users.

Some channels are popular; the #macintosh channel has about 50 users regardless of the time of day. The #perl channel has ...

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