Matt Webb on conversational UIs

Great, long blog post from Matt Webb with lots of interesting links.

One new thing for me was Digit; it sounds really, really interesting:

Digit is an automated savings tool: Every few days, Digit checks your spending habits and removes a few dollars from your checking account if you can afford it.

The kicker: You communicate with it via text message ("Great, I've moved $10.00 to digit"), they have no plans for an app. And what's interesting to me is that it has adaptive behaviour... and maybe because of the text message interface, this Digit review semi-anthropomorphises the software: "At first, Digit was really cautious with my money ... But over the next couple weeks, as my balance recovered from holiday spending, it got a bit more ambitious."

Software isn't "cautious" or "ambitious", those are qualities of alive beings. But maybe it serves us to think so.

Agency in the conversational UIs is definitely going to scare the shit out of some people, and I think it's imperative that there is a fallback mechanism built into the system so you still feel you could take the steering wheel if need be. But it shouldn't be so easy that you do it all the time. You just need to feel that you could if you would. That's a tough balance to strike.

Lastly, this note by Webb on the "post-PC era" is great too:

And you know what, we're still in the PC era, the era of personal computing. We don't really know how to use computers in small groups, how to use interfaces collaboratively.