I’ve taken a break in writing about my normal topics (AI in the workplace, upskilling) because I’m building Alexa skills for my portfolio and documenting the process here.
For background, I’m a UX researcher and conversation designer who was laid off from a conversation AI startup back in March. I’m building Alexa skills to experiment with voice design, and maybe get hired along the way. This is the third skill of five (here’s the write up of Alexa skills one and two).
After building two dialogue-heavy skills, I wanted to create a simple skill. I also wanted to try a feature in Voiceflow where I could pull data from a Google Sheet. This is super useful if you want to make conversation design easier and make your Alexa skill more dynamic.
Instead of writing all possible Alexa responses into Voiceflow, you can instead pull them from a Google Sheet, assign them to a variable, and use that variable throughout your conversation to access the data. I wanted to try this out.
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“So what’re you going to do with an English degree?” – Clueless relatives and friends of English majors everywhere.
English majors have skills. They create narratives. They’re creative or at least understand the creative process. They’re comfortable with ambiguity, critical thinkers, can make sense out of massive amounts of information, and have damn good command of the English language.They’re good at thinking from difference perspectives (the foundation of UX!). Yet English majors get a lot of shit for their pursuit of words and language despite the fact it’s going to be English majors with mad soft skills who will survive the future robots-take-our-jobs-apocolypse.
Soon the answer to WTF-are-you-going-to-do-with-an-English-degree may just be: conversation design. Chatbots are everywhere which means there’s a need for people who can write the scripts and design conversation flow. There’s not a steady stream of conversation design jobs yet but I’m seeing more pop up. Yesterday I saw the job post above and it screamed English major (albeit and English major with UX training but hey that’s what GA is for). Excellence in English writing and communications? Check. Copywriting and content creation? Check, easy to come by for any English major whose ever had a blog, run a club’s social accounts in school, etc. Knowledge of current conversational bots? Check, they’re everywhere. The rest can be gained with a little YouTube tutoring and Googling.
I’m a bit obsessed with chatbot design right now. I was super impressed by Cindy Gallop’s negotiation chatbot. Mostly though I’m curious about the people who design the conversations, how chatbots improve, and the fine line between shitty and helpful. I also think there’s great potential for chatbots in the career advising space. I’d love to work on a project designing a chatbot for career changers. So if you’re a chatbot company interested in exploring this area, get in touch with me.