Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Chatbots: The Medium Impacts the Message

The Medium of Choice Determines the Presentation of the Message


The mediums of our time are perhaps more powerful and impactful than any of the mediums of days gone by. Our patterns of social interdependence and the intimate aspects of our personal life are being impacted by the mediums of our age. The messages and the thoughts we exchange are very much still the same. We still signal wealth, health, virtue and so on…but the mediums at our disposal are at the same time powerful outwardly and all-consuming inwardly.

Daily engagement rate of selected mobile social media apps among Android users in the United States as of August 2019

AI: 4th Industrial Revolution in Perspective

The fourth industrial revolution can only be truly understood and ramifications projected, through the lens of the previous 3 industrial revolutions.

Number of artificial intelligence (AI) companies in China in 2018, by province

The First…

The First Industrial Revolution had as its catalyst steam. Industries relied on wind and water power as well as horse and man-power.

The Second…

One of the most influential and far-reaching innovations of the Second Industrial Revolution was the internal combustion engine. Companies do not run around stating, we have internal combustion engines baked in. This is an enabler, which is not even stated. And this enabler created a whole industry and industries around it as concentric circles. We don’t marvel at the internal combustion engine or electricity per say. We use it as tools to create tools, and shape our environments. Electricity is an underlying enabling layer which has become transparent, on which we build.

The Third…

This digital revolution migrated us from mechanical to electronic, from tubes to circuits, from electrical to digital. This marked the beginning of the information age. Often the same message, but via new mediums. Business techniques were transformed, retail. automated teller machines, industrial robots, CGI, video games.

The Fourth…

The sequence of technological revolutions were not over and the emergence of a new universal technology revolution was evident. Decentralized consensus, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Robotics and more.

Share of generational groups who think artificial intelligence will end the world in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2017


Affordance is the environment offered to an user.

This is Not an Apple, 1964 — Rene Magritte
WhatsApp with minimal Affordances

Back to the Medium

When working through design considerations of any chatbot, it cannot be done in isolation without considering the medium which will be used to propagate the interface and extent it to users.

Messenger Rich with Affordances



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Cobus Greyling

Chief Evangelist @ HumanFirst. I explore and write about all things at the intersection of AI and language; NLP/NLU/LLM, Chat/Voicebots, CCAI.