Baring your soul to Clippy

In response to an XKCD strip about an insular community born from a defunct but still active product support forum, Colin Birge shared the story of someone's touching conversation with Clippy.


  1. This morning, Randall Munroe posted XKCD #1305: Undocumented feature. The strip describes an old product support forum, now accessible only through arcane and archaic means, which has become a hangout for a select group of individuals. Eventually, he predicts, the forum will pass from living memory, and no one will remember that it even existed.

    In response, Colin Birge (@WoS) shared this very touching story about someone who resorted to Clippy as an outlet for fears such as losing their job and having an abusive partner.
  2. When even Clippy can connect to hurting, lonely people, it's easy to wonder how people might respond to Siri. Thankfully, Apple had the insight to consider this and respond appropriately.
  3. It's worth noting that this is not the first time people have bared their souls to a computer "person". Consider how people responded to ELIZA when it was released to non-technical users:

    "Weizenbaum tells us that he was shocked by the experience of releasing ELIZA (also known as 'Doctor') to the nontechnical staff at the MIT AI Lab. Secretaries and nontechnical administrative staff thought the machine was a 'real' therapist, and spent hours revealing their personal problems to the program. When Weizenbaum informed his secretary that he, of course, had access to the logs of all the conversations, she reacted with outrage at this invasion of her privacy. Weizenbaum was shocked by this and similar incidents to find that such a simple program could so easily deceive a naive user into revealing personal information."
    From Eliza to A.L.I.C.E., Dr Richard S. Wallace