Meet Brian the creativity bot

Why a chatbot?

Let's answer the why first. So, why would I design and prototype a chatbot?

I didn't really like chatbots about 1 year back and till today I experienced only a couple of good or even meaningful use cases. Still, I set out to

  1. explore this new technology and
  2. see if I could create a solid use case in my field of interest: creativity.

As a result, Brian Bot came into being. Brian is currently a rough but working prototype on Facebook Messenger developed in Chatfuel. The bot is based on a pretty simple and straightforward technique which was introduced by James Altucher: Idea Machine.

You basically answer a prompt, question or challenge everyday by coming up with ten possible ideas. In my version, Brian serves you a prompt which you should answer in your notebook.

 Main concept of Brian

Main concept of Brian

So far Brian only exercises with you for 5 days and generally isn't really smart (, yet). However, the showcase let's you experience the core function of Brian and demonstrates the use case. The long term goal is to develop a smarter bot that trains creativity more holistically and doesn't reduce creativity training to divergent thinking and creative thinking skills only.

The creative process

There are many things I learned along the way but I would like to highlight three key factors that turned out :  curiosity, drive and habits.

Firstly, Brian only exists today because of an initial spark of curiosity. Questions that triggered the creation of the bot were along these lines: "What is the bot technology good for?", "Can this be used to train creativity?", "Am I able to build a bot without coding skills?" or "How can this help me with my drive?". Make sure you regularly reflect on what interests or bothers you. Speak to different people from various fields. 

Answer this: How can you find out what you are curious about? Do you seek novel experiences or question the known?

Secondly, my drive played a major role. I spent several hours to explore and define my drive which is to "realize my ideas and help others to do so, too by exploring and exercising creativity". The Creativity Gym is my major outlet to purse this drive.

Very often throughout this project I was ready to quit. This was especially the case when I encountered skills gap like programming or copy writing. In these moments it's vital to remind yourself of your drive and why you are engaging in this project. 

Answer this: How can you possibly remind yourself about your why? How do you notice that your drive changes (which is OK)? 

Eventually habits seemed to be vital for the success of this project. This is still something I am constantly improving. One habit I pursued during the project was to use the commute for working on the bot. Be it doodles, conversational UX or thinking through how to realize loops in Chatfuel, those 15 minutes turned out to be a big support. I wasn't accomplishing huge chunks on a single subway ride. Taken together, however, those 15 minutes per ride accumulated pretty quickly. 

Answer this: Which healthy creative habit can you design? What triggers that habit and what's the possible reward of engaging in the habit? 

What now?

  1. I became a bit more open towards chatbots even though I am still reluctant to completely fall for them. However, I think that the use case is a quite solid one. What do you think?
  2. Brian Bot is live and can be tested for a series of 5 days so far. Be aware that it's a prototype and Brian is not too smart yet (Sorry Brian).
  3. Let's see if Brian can become smarter. There are a few features I'd like to implement and hardcode outside Chatfuel. If you are a developer and are up for collaborating on developing Brian Bot, write me to hell@creativitygym.at
Stephan Kardos