1-Credit: Conversational Interfaces to Augment Storytelling

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IMA Number: 783.23 | 1 credits
Course Type: Production
Professor: John Keefe
This class meets Saturdays, Sept 23rd + Sept 30th - 10:30am-5:30pm in HN 544
Full Course Description:

When National Geographic launched “Genius,” a TV series about Albert Einstein, viewers also got to “talk” with Einstein — by way of a chat bot inside Facebook Messenger. In response to typed questions, the bot responded with Einsteinian answers, insights and, of course, promotion for the series. It’s “knowledge” was written by writers and is served up by a computer that seems almost human:

User: What can you tell me about gravity?
Genius: I assume you have heard of Newton’s falling apple? What if I told you, the apple isn’t falling at all?
User: It’s not?
Genius: Considering that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate into infinite nothingness, I’d say we should be    doing relatively well.

When the film “Batman vs Superman” came out, the filmmakers launched a parallel choose-your-own-adventure game inside Amazon’s Alexa, the home assistant/appliance you actually talk with. In that game, “The Wayne Investigation,” users tried to solve a crime by navigating through various rooms looking for clues — all via the voice/response speaker.

Both are examples of using “conversational interfaces” to augment a film or video project. And you can make these, too. Chat bots and voice-driven experiences can bring additional content and exploration to an audience based on your journalism or documentary work.

In this class, we’ll explore media bots in the wild and then you’ll get hands-on experience making a chat bot, crafting an Alexa “skill” (which is what Amazon calls it’s apps) and using artificial intelligence to help make your bots smart. You’ll take away the concepts and core knowledge about how to build a conversational interface for your project and/or guide someone else in building one for you. You’ll need a laptop, but no previous coding experience is necessary.

Permissions: Contact Instructor with interest in course based on your background for approval. Cleared after advisement with IMA Director and Program Coordinator.