Web applications that are context aware will be able to make greater use of autonomous agents to directly manipulate graphical objects and affect the users display. The MIT paper titled "Autonomous Interface Agents" says of autonomous agents:
An autonomous agent is an agent program that operates in parallel with the user. Autonomy says that the agent is, conceptually at least, always running. The agent may discover a condition that might interest the user and independently decide to notify him or her. The agent may remain active based on previous input long after the user has issued other commands or has even turned the computer off.
How many times have you built an application and then, when speaking to a user about how they use it been confounded to learn that they don't know about some of the best little features that you included in it?
So through better use of agents, we can envisage a system where users are offered cues to increase their productivity with a tool. Some simple illustrations of this might include systems which:
- know which features a user hasn't used and offers some ad-hoc advice about that feature to a user.
- can offer help whilst a user is using a particular feature
- remember past screens that a user has used and offer them as "favourite" short-cuts
- offer quick-fix solutions for filling-in forms with valid data
Autonomous Interface Agents