Thinkbot is an interesting knowledge-sharing application built on top of the Jabber instant-messaging platform. It’s basically a Jabber “bot” that acts as a broker matching users with similar interests. You just register yourself with the Thinkbot service by IMing it some keywords you would use to describe your interests, and then users who query Thinkbot using those keywords will see you in the list of results. They can then ask Thinkbot to connect them to you so you can chat on whatever they are interested in.
I’ve seen matchmaking applications like this before — they’re a staple of many corporate KM systems, and are just beginning to trickle out to the general public via applications like GlobeAlive — but this is the first time I’ve seen one implemented via IM, and IM adds an element of instant connectivity that Web-based tools are lacking.
Right now Thinkbot is a little rough around the edges, but it seems like a really good idea. Why? I suppose that I just think that IM is a medium whose potential we’ve only scratched the surface of. At my office, for example, I developed a proof-of-concept application that connected our internal contacts database to a secure AIM bot, so that staff could pull phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. using their AIM client rather than having to fill out a Web form. The response has been phenomenal; people really love the at-your-fingertips quality that information has when delivered by instant message. If Thinkbot takes off, I bet we’ll see a lot more developers begin to explore that idea.Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at April 18, 2003
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