It’s a fact which we oftentimes don’t appreciate, but the Internet caters as much to the algorithms operating within it as it does for the flesh and blood ‘end users.’ This process has happened slowly, but whether it’s webpage headlines catering for SEO algorithms rather than human eyes or the irritation of Twitter spambots, there are plenty of signs which indicate that the social web is increasingly populated by algorithmic actors as much as it is human users. So perhaps it’s timely to reconsider the definition of a ‘social web’ user?
Philter Phactory are a company at the cutting edge of exploring the post-user Internet landscape. Their Weavrs platform combines “intelligent search with tamagotchis,” allowing anyone to create a fictional identity, instill this identity into a bot and then loose their creation into the web 2.0 ecology. Once established, the artificial actors will tweet, blog and check in on Foursquare, probing their way through the social web by establishing links through what people share with one another, a process enabled by what David Bausola of Philter Phactory describes as ‘narrative filtering.’
The Weavr platform is open for anyone to create bots to populate the social web. An intriguing use of the platform is suggested by a recent project in Berlin which has created a Weavr identity matching all the characters from Alice in Wonderland. Everyday these characters relive the narratives of Alice and the characters of Lewis Carroll but now the story locations are mapped to special places in Berlin. It’s possible to follow these virtual character via their Twitter feed, their personal blogs or foursquare check in-trails, but if you happen to reside in Berlin you can use the augmented reality Layar application to see the characters out and about in the city, such as when they congregate for the Tea Party.
The Maschmischine project goes live in Summer 2011. To create your own Weavr’s you can visit the hub here