Web 2.0 Soldier


Jim: Have you ever killed anyone?

SGT STAR: Unfortunately, some Soldiers do die during combat. The possibility of death exists in every profession. In the event that a Soldier dies, the Army provides compensation for the family.

Jim: That’s nice. How does it feel to kill someone?

SGT STAR: Incredible, isn’t it? Is there anything else I can help you with?

So goes the playful banter with Sargent Star, an avatar on GoArmy.com, the recruiting site for the United States Military. The US military is using the embodied agent in response to the belief that “85% of teenagers are online every day” and such a device has a “cool factor”. According to a military source quoted in Time magazine “Thousands have chatted with Star, typically staying on-site for 15 minutes – three times longer that the average visit before he went live.” Star responds with voice and text.

Having seen a talking chef on Barnes and Noble’s site last year speaking about his book (he climbed out from behind the tool bar and “in front of” the web page) and following some experiments with SitePal the use of these agents seems to be developing as a web practice.

Sargent Star’s mission is:
I am a dynamic, intelligent self-service virtual guide that will help you quickly navigate the GoArmy Web site and retrieve Army-related subject matter, while simultaneously answering questions and directing communication based on interaction with the user