Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
And now for the paperclip you loved to taunt! Microsoft’s Clippit, the beloved, annoying (Swartz, 2003) and incredibly distracting, animated paperclip, serving as a personal office assistant that you could query for all the help you needed when working with Microsoft Office.
Removed from the Microsoft suite of programs in 2007 under pressure from the crowd ….Clippit, affectionately called Clippy, was recently and briefly re-generated in cloud versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft’s Mobile Office, and also re-cycled as main protagonist in the Microsoft tutorial game Ribbon Hero 2.
The brilliantly animated little paperclip wizard, designed by the Children’s book illustrator Kevan Atteberry (Atteberry 2014), really arises at the interfacing tip of an iceberg, consisting of expert search and querying systems, and many different Microsoft patents exploring these domains (McCracken, 2009).
Below, you will find a selection of the Microsoft patents driving the expert search and user querying systems behind Clippy, as well as the interface patent for an animated character since Clippit was the default animated option programmed to function as your office assistant:
US 6262730 B1 - Intelligent User Assistance Facility filed Nov. 20, 1998, disclosing an intelligent user assistance system, “using a reasoning model to determine the probability of a user's intentions, goals, or informational needs in the context of a software program.”
US 6513031 B1 - System for improving search area selection filed, Dec. 23, 1998, disclosing “A method of aiding a user in searching a computer environment includes
retrieving a search query from a user, accessing a user profile and selecting a
search area based on the search query and the user profile.”
US 6460029 – System for improving search text, filed Dec 23, 1998, disclosing “computer-executable instructions for retrieving a search query provided by a user and locating an ambiguity in the search query that affects the optimization of the search query. The instructions also provide for requesting additional information from the user to clarify the text of the search query.”
US 6657643 B1 - Modulating the Behavior of an Animated Character to Reflect Beliefs Inferred About a User’s Desire for Automated Services, filed May 17, 1999, specifically associated with messaging and scheduling.
I have also enclosed the image of a Clippy gem...…