Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's with the clouds?

People have asked about the clouds behind Emma. "You're a library, how come she isn't sitting in front of books?" That's a question worth answering. Yes, we're a library. And yes, we still have quite a few books. Chances are, we always will. Paper is cheap, durable, and you don't need electricity to read something printed on it. So why the clouds? Many of the qualities that make Emma so useful to our library are the same qualities that remove her from us - she never appears bored, or impatient, or sad, or angry. (She will stop talking if someone uses profanity.) These are great if something has to answer the same questions over and over, hundreds of times a week, but they are definitely not human characteristics. Placing her in the clouds affirms her AI status; she's not remote or superior, but there can be no question that she's set apart from us. Plus, I can program all sorts of fun answers if you ask her about them.

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