Smart UI agents and inductive UI

Continuing on from my blog entries last week about automated UI agents, I've started building a small prototype which will hopefully lead to an actual implementation.  In my prototype I have several agents accessing shared context through which they have some access to shared resources - such as logging tool and reporting agents.  As I mentioned, the output from my prototype will be an implementation, but I'm also preparing to cover it with a whitepaper on some of the lower level details.

Today I'd like to write about a small mental excercise that I've developed which should help to get into thinking mode about agents:

Update: when you do this excercise, try to mentally envisage the objective as an actual objective of a user on your own site - such as a visitor searching for an article or a site admin adding a new item or a techsupport staff member replying to an action item:

Mapping out an Objective

1) Starting Scope: Browsing

2) What is your current Objective within that scope? 
       - To learn about something that the author wrote.

3) What operations can you perform within that scope?
       - Submit feedback
       - User defined search
       - Pre-canned Search
           - View the authors favourite authors
           - View other entries within the current category
           - View similar entries
       - Learn about the author

4) Which of the items in 2 and 3 are related?

5) Do you have a history within this scope?
       - Has read blog entries?
       - Has submitted feedback?
       - Has used search?

So, in this excercise, you can see that not only can we determine the "objective" of a user (given a current scope), but we are also in a position to ascertain how capable they are of reaching that objective on their own.  If the user has no history within this scope then it is likely that they may require assistance from us to "lead" them to tools which can help to achieve their underlying objective.  It is also likely that, within a given Scope, there can be more than just one single objective.

In this entry I have discussed: Scope, Operations, Objectives and Agents.  I've also given an example of creating a high level mapping for an objective.  If you are read this and you did the mental excercise, please take the time to develop a similar mapping for a different objective and forward it to me as either a comment or as an e-mail.


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