Friday, April 6, 2012

Trickster folkloric characters and my evolving thesis idea

I read an excerpt that I find interesting especially as I consider folkloric characters such as Anansi, Sly Mongoose and Doctorbird as possible options for the AI conversational agent.

"Trickster has particular purposes within cultural stories as educator and teacher. The trickster typically teaches by making mistakes so listeners can hear the stories and learn from the mistakes so they do not have to make them themselves. Trickster typically has some human and some superhuman characteristics and possibly some animal characteristics as well that allow him to get into situations that otherwise would not be possible thus allowing stories to consider complex cultural, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual domains." (Iseke-Barnes 2009)

Interesting ideas. I never saw it that way. I saw Anasi stories as teaching us the qualities of deception and deceiving other people which I felt ingrained corruption and 'conmanship' in the African diaspora.

My discovery that Native Canadians (or the Indigenous people of Canada) also have trickster stories also makes my thesis idea more relevant to not only Jamaica, but to Canada as well. Hopefully I can establish that AI conversational agents based on one's cultural stories may be effective in the online world in transferring knowledge and information, and in helping people make sense of their activities or world.


Iseke-Barnes, J. (2009). Unsettling fictions: Disrupting popular discourses and trickster tales in books for children. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies,

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