Do you remember chatting with SmarterChild — everyone’s favorite bot — in the good ol’ AIM days? (AIM is AOL Instant Messenger for you youngin’s.) SmarterChild was sometimes sweet, sometimes not so sweet, and sometimes just an all-out, confusing asshole. You could ask it to get you a cup of coffee, and it would reply, “Why don’t you get it yourself?” Or, you could ask, “Are you really a smarter child,” and it would reply, “I don’t know? Are you really a butt?” SmarterChild provided countless hours of juvenile fun in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and was on everyone’s friend-list.
While they pulled the plug on SmarterChild in 2008, many other automated bots live on — from the simplistic word generator to Siri, the voice of the iPhone and subject of many, many parodies. Bots are a goldmine of ideas and, whether they know it or not, they are an easy source of inspiration for technologically-savvy writers.
What bots are around in the two-thousand-teens? Twitter is probably the first place you should look, as any chat-based program has the coding capabilities for computer-human communication. (Someday, we’ll have androids that can build their own relationship programs to tell us exactly what we want to hear, or…I’m sure they make a sex doll version first, then someone will make a documentary called, “Lars and the Almost-Real Girl.”)
There IS an interesting bot that will give you a random list of things. Send a tweet to @YouAreCarrying with the word ‘inventory’, and it will tweet back with a cracked-out grocery list.
Here are my items:
@SamanthaJPaige a keyboard, a mystery book, a grue suit, a quantity of cough syrup, a pipe, a paper bird, a bunch of Allergone tablets.
— YOU ARE CARRYING: (@YouAreCarrying) July 17, 2014
Cough syrup and Allergone tablets: am I making meth or something? Grue suit? That a type of monster, right? So, I have the skin of a grue in my possession. What happened to the rest of it? (If any one understand this reference, please enlighten me. Google just gives me creepy, fan-made pictures.)
For this exercise, use all the items in a flash fiction piece, and try to aim for 1,000 words, at least. Don’t have a Twitter account? That’s okay — pick a list from their past tweets and get crackin’! Link in the comments if you’re feeling brave!