From: hill@HI.MCC.COM (Will Hill)
Subject: Humor Interface Project
Date: 12 Mar 87 22:01:37 GMT
For the AIlist.

Remember the Viet Cong? Well, I'll get back to them in a minute.

This memo announces the formation of a new project, the Humor Interface Project, sometimes known in revolutionary circles as the Interface-esE liberation Army, or, IEA, (pronounced at the top of your lungs, as EYEEE-EEEEE-AHHHHH... while drumming your chest). The members seek no official status whatsoever and will accept none when they succeed.

I am not a member of this group but have been retained by them as their publicist for an indecent sum of money. They have requested that I set before the public their noble raisin d'etre [sic], their altruistic intentions, their anti-establishment methods, and of course, their consulting fee scale and answering service number.

This project formed at a recent conference during the "HCI and All Possible Universes" session. Or was it the "HCI and All Possible Universes Containing Alcohol" session? Anyway, the group intends to implement, study, reflect and publish about humorous interface techniques.

The idea started with the question, "Suppose we tried to make a computer act like Robin Williams or Jonathan Winters? Not staged humor, not joke telling, not static cartoons but interactive... contextual humor, adlibbing on material provided by the combination of user and system programmer?" From there things went straight down or straight up depending upon your perspective.

The group shared their favorites. Windows that crack or melt into a slag heap. The MacIntosh IBM DOS emulator that, when fired up, begins to put up a zippy MacIntosh screen, stops halfway down the screen to declare, "Oops? Sorry. You wanted 195Os technology." It then goes into command line mode. The supposed unused ROM hook in the Mac that would have caused a monkey to dance across the screen ONCE upon the 7698th (or whatever) boot of the machine. Insects crawling around the screen.

As you read this, project programmers in ski-masks are already coding up:
The group suspects that a lot could learned about the un-obvious communication possibilities of computational media by analyzing successful and failed humor attempts. At least unspoken expectations of interface experience should stand out in bold relief as humor violates them. Misunderstandings of those same expectations and experiences should stand out as humor fails.

Back to the Viet Cong. Remember that a large percentage of the South Vietnamese Government was V.C.? Its the same way with the Humorous Interface Project. You're part of it. We're collecting examples of humorous interface techniques. They might be implemented or not If you know of some, please send them along to . We'd much appreciate it. At sometime, somehow, we'll publish the best of what you send in back out into the community. Send code if you like.

I'll end with a quote from the HIP group.
"The project is putting together a macro, With-Humorous-Interface. Dare you run inside it? Who knows what you'll see and hear next time you cycle through text called back from the kill ring. Text YOU killed."

publicist for The Humor Interface Project,

Alias "Humor In Your Face", "Humid Interface" And "Interface-Ese liberation Army (EYEEE-EEE-AHHH...)