A buddy just suggested I install the Firefox music player, FoxyTunes. It's a wee little control bar that allows me to adjust the music without switching over to the player window. Cool and kind of fun.
What's really interesting, however, is the sheer number of little add-ons now available for Firefox. Over 1000 according to their site.
I cruised around a bit to see what was there, and picked up a nice little information bar called Forecastfox that allows me to monitor the weather anywhere. So I picked Barcelona, a city I'm hoping to visit soon.
*** This feels like an intelligent agent to me. I can sit here doing other things, while the agent goes and gets information for me, in the case, the weather.
When I first heard about this idea years ago, it sounded like something very complicated that only a true geek could program. But in fact these things are now all around us in the web world.
It might be a stretch to call these intelligent agents. A truly intelligent agent could monitor the web and let me know when it has found -- and booked -- flights to Barcelona. But this is a great start.
A few of us oldsters might remember "push" technology -- applications that would allow companies to push advertising to you. This stuff has had a relatively quick death, for the most part. [And thank goodness!] Because we've got the power now, and we ain't playin' no push. We playin' pull.
So if you want to talk to me... or pretty much anyone else now... you had better have something interesting enough to tell me that I want to pull it in. This will be like the difference between RSS and e-mail: I'm in control with RSS, so you can't spam me without my permission.
As we get more intelligent agents working for us, how will this all play out? Will advertisers buy the right to push things at us disguised as pull?
I went looking for an illustration for this article, and found Verbots. This thing does look a little too complex right now. But I bet it won't be too long before even us non-geeks will be able to get someone else to monitor things and get back to us. [Now if I could just figure out how to virtually deal with expense receipts, we'd really have something....]
And oddly enough, as these things become more animated, they feel like company. Like my office cat, pictured above. Sometimes I forget to turn it off when doing a presentation. But -- surprise -- people usually find it quite amusing and engaging.
Intelligent agents. Coming soon to a computer near you.