I started off the day by walking by the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, near Charlottesville’s downtown mall. This statue has proven extremely controversial in recent years as local activists try to remove this statue of a man who fought for rebels who supported slavery. Even in 2017, the debates of America’s past of slavery are not far away.
This is an interesting story. An abandoned hotel on the downtown mall. During the 2008 financial crisis this project went belly-up and the hotel has remained an unfinished eyesore for years.
Despite the wave of gentrification on the mall, the Men’s and Boy’s shop has continued to operate. Although, since they sell formal clothing, you might say they are the original gentrifiers.
Another Tom Tom banner on the side of a the downtown parking garage.
Creating chatbots with WillowTree
We stopped by WillowTree to learn about all the ways that businesses can use chatbots to interact with their customers. Advanced chatbots remember what the user likes and what they’ve done in the past, which helps make the experience customized for each user.
Mike Ross (left) said,“one of the hardest things about this…there’s so much ambiguity in language. So when you’re designing these things, you want to think about that.” An audience member asked about ways around it, including simply asking more and more questions to determine what chatbot users want. Ross noted, “There’s a careful balance” between asking more questions and annoying users.” He went on to emphasize the importance of capturing the right information. Ross said that many brands are not capturing the right type of data to help users with a chatbot. “You want to clean all that up before you do a chatbot.”
In the end, “It’s about where you are and what you’re trying to do” that determines whether you should build a chatbot.
WillowTree has developed apps for Fox News, Maroon 5, American Express, and other major brands and organizations—they know their stuff.
We next stopped by the screening and panel of “Seats at the Table.” Seats at the Table is a documentary currently in production about a project that matches colleges students with incarcerated young adults and brings them together through discussions about Russian literature. By discussing the themes of works like Crime and Punishment both the students and the young adults currently in jail forge connections with one another and think about their place in the world.
After that we stopped by the Tarot Opera, an event which is exactly what is sounds like: a mix of tarot and opera. Cards were passed to the crowd. If the presenter drew your card, you would come up to the center of the room and have your fortune told by an opera singer.
It was an imaginative and fun event that showcased the diversity of content at the Tom Tom Fest.