Ms. Dewey: Humanizing the Web

Ms. DeweyOne of my good buddies, Jeff Cohen, just sent me a link pointing to a new “visual” (!?!) search engine: Ms. Dewey. According to the San Francisco Chronicles, It is a new ad campaign by Microsoft (helped by EVB in
San Francisco) to promote Live Search. I think the site is fun and refreshing (I had a good laugh) but I’m not sure it works if it’s really an ad campaign. The ties between the site and Live Search is tenuous at best and the algorithmic results are still not as good as other competitors. But it got me thinking about “what it means”…

What it means: move over Jeeves! (in fact, he already did…). Ms Dewey is the new persona of Web search (for the next five minutes). But, kidding aside, I wonder if there’s not a future where we will have a human persona accompanying us through our Web activities, some sort of virtual concierge that we control by voice, finds the information we’re looking for, book our plane tickets, etc. There are already some basic tools offering a human face to the Web like SitePal, corporate avatars in Second Life and World of Warcraft, instant messenging buddies (like this YellowPages.ca one from Illumicell) but we’re still far away from the future I describe above.

Update: Eric Baillargeon points me to a 2004 Burger King viral ad campaign, the Subservient Chicken, that I had forgotten all about. I agree with him that this viral campaign from Microsoft is not very original in light of this, almost a copycat. This AdWeek article talks about the results of the Burger King campaign.

3 thoughts on “Ms. Dewey: Humanizing the Web

  1. Sebastien, I really do think there is something here. What’s stopping the next generation of search from having users create a virtual concierge when they first download a new browswer based on a questionnaire. This allows the concierge identify what elements to crawl the internet and be the content aggregator “who” collects all the things we might be/are interested in and organize it by priority: Articles, stock quotes, coupons, blogs, etc. all calculated based on previous search history. Just a thought…I think there might be a small shift online towards the life event concept but that might also be a personal bias.

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