IM as THE interface?

I recently tried the SmarterChild, this little bot you put in your AIM contact list.

SmarterChild is an interactive agent built by Conversagent, Inc. Interactive agents are software applications, often called "bots," that interact with users on Instant Messaging or other text messaging services. You can "chat" with an interactive agent, whether on the web, over IM, or on a wireless device, the same way you talk to any other contact.

You can chat with him, talking about news and info, (Headline News/Movie Showtimes/Sports Scores/Sports Standings/Weather Conditions/Weather Forecasts), play games, ask for dictionnary definitions... It's a bit US-centric at the moment, because of the data sources they use ("Not all of our information providers supply us with international information"), but it seems promising. Why do I blog this? This tool seems promising even tough it the bot idea is a bit passé (MUD or MOO bots were close to it). What is new and interesting here is: (i) the interconnexion with lots of database (ii) the fact that your IM is more and more seen as THE interface. This, because now some IM supports asynchronous messenging (you can send messages if your partner disconnected), file transfer and now database query (well the bot thing is nothing more than a database query mixed with some regular expression).

There seems to be 3 important tools nowadays:

  1. the browser seen by google dudes as the interface that can be substituted to the operating system: to search (google core mission), network (orkut), read (webpages), send messages (gmail)...
  2. the webfeed aggregator (to gather news, calendars, todo list, weather forecast, remiders...), which is interesting because an aggregator is just an interface to deal with lists (RSS = list of stuff).
  3. the Instant Messenger to send/read messages and now ask for information

All these tools use the http protocol and are used differently by groups. Newsgroup and email are still here but some group of users tend to leave them (see the korean example in which email is only used to contact old persons). It would be interesting to study how the use of those tools is mixed and for which purpose (with regard to socio-cultural aspects).