Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thesis Idea Update: Providing Access to Entrepreneur Blogs through Conversational Agents?

I have been working for the entire summer on two guided reading papers, after which I will prepare for comprehensive examinations, all things going well.

I just wanted to post an update on my thoughts as to a possible direction for my thesis. As some of you know, I have an interest in the use of conversational type agents for providing online information to entrepreneurs. As it stands today, I am not sure if I have the time to develop a prototype adequate enough to be tested for dissertation purposes. Hence, I am considering to just include agents as a chapter in the thesis, perhaps proposing that agents be considered for future in connecting business persons to stories shared on the Web.
I guess the larger vision is to create a system for sharing business information, that captures people's business stories in whatever format, and make that accessible to users. This could be through conversational interaction with virtual agents or otherwise (which may involve multimedia information retrieval). 
Since no such system exist, but would have to be created, I guess I have limited options, especially constrained by time. I could undertake a project where I would collect the online stories shared by  Jamaican/Canadian entrepreneurs (or both) in whatever online format (social media or regularly Web), and then index and categorise them into motifs. These categories and motifs I would input into multiple conversational agents: the trickster personality for stories that feature wit and intelligence to outsmarting bureaucratic obstacles; the victim personality for stories that deal with tragedy and the hero personality: that deals with stories about overcoming odds and attaining success.

Based on Technorati  2011 report, I know that a large percentage of blogs are created by entrepreneurs who are sharing their stories. I also know that based on a Pew Internet Research report, bloggers are seen as storytellers (Lenhart & Fox, 2006). I see the possibility of indexing and categorising these stories to be the source materials for developing the agents. However, I also believe I could provide access to these entrepreneur blogs or stories  without the use of conversational agents, as I can use a blog or content management system to index and organise a kind of directory to entrepreneur blogs and stories on the Web.
Possible research questions thus far for such a project:
  1. What knowledge is being shared via social media by entrepreneurs' storytelling?
  2. Are current motifs and categories of organisational storytelling literature adequate for indexing and categorising entrepreneurs' storytelling via social media?
  3. To what extent would making entrepreneur stories accessible via the Web be useful?
If I was able to create an adequate agent, I would add this question for testing:
4. Would such stories be more accessible if users interacted with virtual agents rather than browsing and keyword searching?


Lenhart, A., & Fox, S. (2006). Bloggers: A portrait of the internet’s new storytellers. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from 

Technorati. (2011). State of the blogosphere 2011: Introduction and methodology. Retrieved 6/13/2012, 2012, from

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