It's highly unlikely that popular services like Twitter have seen their full potential, but the concept of microblogging itself is being pulled in so many directions it’s hard to say exactly where it’s going. In some ways, perhaps it’s that very uncertainty that keeps us all on our toes, constantly wondering things like: will micro-blogging take over marketing, or public relations? Will it replace journalism? Will the solutions for it one day be able understand what we’re saying?
You actually probably weren’t considering that last one—a fact that makes this particular review all the more fun. Akibot, a tiny new start up with a big goal, aims to combine artificial intelligence with microblogging. It’s as Akibot founder and developer Marcelo Pham says, "a very tiny step towards the machine reading our minds."
“Semantic Actionable Micro-blogging for the Enterprise”
Throw microblogging into a pot with artificial intelligence and you've got Akibot. The tool aims to improve a company's collective intelligence by acting as a Twitter-like service, but takes the concept of microblogging one step further. Besides allowing real time group collaboration through the short messages we’ve all come to know and love, it also tries to understand what you're sharing and, if applicable, takes action.
“Action” includes things like clocking you out if you update with, “I’m done for the day,” or, conversely, clocking you in when you say, “Hey team, I’m here at work.” Another useful example: say you message your team with, “Meeting tomorrow at 1pm!” In theory, Akibot would recognize this and automatically put the event in the team calendar.
Akibot also has a memory. If one day you use the service to report “The info for the Pham file is at XXXXXX.com” and on another day a team member uses the service to ask, “Where is the Pham file information?” Akibot would supposedly be able to recognize the words and automatically reply with the link posted earlier.
How Akibot Ticks
Though it’s kind of fun in a really creepy/scary way to think microblogging services could have minds of their own, the magic behind Akibot is pretty basic. By incorporating a natural language processing module, Akibot “understands” your updates. A text analyzer looks for structure including nouns, verbs and pronouns and a “context>action” dictionary triggers responses accordingly.
“Akibot is like another user, like a person.”
Because Akibot understands natural language, potential users are urged to think of it just like another person, meaning they reportedly wouldn't have to use any special syntax when updating.
Pham, who has been running a software consultancy since 2005, claims he hadn't even heard of Twitter (!) until March of this year when one of his clients suggested he follow him on it. “I liked the idea – but I didn’t see any use for myself because I’m kind of a private person," he said. "Twitter is for the masses – perhaps for celebrities to be in contact with their fans. However, the micromessage concept forces you to be brief – and encourages you to be frequent. I saw a use for corporate applications."
Sure, the idea of a micro-blogging service that can understand and react is pretty cool, but, we wonder, is this something that the enterprise could adapt to? Established enterprise tools include Yammer, Present.ly and Socialtext. Are these tools enough the way they are?
The company is still brand new, has received no funding to speak of and has no set dates as to when the solution will be released, if at all. For now, they are considering offering Akibot for free for up to three users and charging an additional US$ 1/per user, per month.
The entire thing seems a bit shaky and we're not quite sure what to make of it, but we suppose if it's possible that there are still people out there just learning about Twitter, then anything is. If you'd like to be among the first to experience this new direction, you can sign up for beta testing consideration on Akibot's homepage here.