Remember “Ask Jeeves?” It was a unique way to search online by giving a more personal face to computer interactions through a Q&A “session.” Jeeves is still with us, in the UK as Ask Jeeves and here in the US as But he’s no longer unique. The name Jeeves is from a novel by P.G. Wodehouse.

With Jeeves as your own personal valet, you could have him fetch answers for you from what was then the wondrous, mysterious world wide web. The web is still wondrous, but it isn’t new anymore and being online is simply part of the day. The wonder depends on user interaction on a particular website.

When Ask Jeeves was a novel item it was the mid-nineties and my co-workers had the entire top of their computer decorated like a stage set, from small toy animals to plastic bric-a-brac — hula dolls, Ribik’s Cubes, and bobble heads, even cut-out cardboard faces to surround the screen.

People were forming relationships with the beige box sitting on their desk, or black if you happen to be one of the recent lucky recipients of a company update. Now you could barely balance a penny on top of your computer and at one time you could buy it in a variety of colors.

Seems we humans have always been trying to personalize technology, from Jeeves to Hal on 2001: A Space Odyssey. But 2001 is now 2012 and still no good Hal. Maybe Siri is moving us along now with smart phones providing our personal assistance.

So I was wondering, how would Jeeves respond if I ask him what he thinks of Apple’s new Siri. I got the usual results, from the cynical, “Siri is underwhelming…” to the overplayed, “Ask her another question… Siri, who’s your daddy?” When something’s new though, what do you expect, like one of the earliest videos of the sneeze or running horses — people watched it over and over again; some love the new, others decry it.

I asked other questions: “Has Jeeves met Siri?” “Would Jeeves marry Siri?” I find it odd I couldn’t get any smarty answers from Jeeves about Siri. None of that good British humor either. Nothing like, “That’s bog standard.” Or, “Blimey, I think she sounds smart!”

Jeeves really has retired, his mystic gone. Jeeves and Siri won’t be forming a relationship either. Then there’s Google as the replacement, putting it mildly. When will they discuss Google’s old mystic? What would an inbound marketer’s job look like then? Is there any other publicly available technology with the creative replies like Siri could offer?


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I mold my approach to art and the written word by observing the light and seeking out information, by following color, form, time, and sources. I'm continually learning new ways of working and reminding myself to pay attention to the sights and sounds, and to always take notes.