A conversation with Tessa Lau about Project Koala

For this week’s ITConversations show I talked with Tessa Lau about Project Koala, a “a system for recording, automating, and sharing business processes performed in a web browser.” I’ve been interested in that idea for a long time, and mentioned it most recently in this item on pooling citizens’ collective knowledge about the services of government websites, and about how to make effective use of those services. In a comment on that item, Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah mentioned Project Koala and suggested that I speak with Tessa about it, so I did.

Of course we’ve had macro recorders since the dawn of computing, and Koala is yet another of those. What’s different? Crucially, the ability not only to capture and replay, but also to share, performances of tasks. The descriptions of those tasks are shared on a Wiki, and they’re written in an English-like syntax that’s very close to what you’d write if you were narrating instructions, e.g.: “Enter 94301 into the Search By Zipcode textbox, then click the Continue button.” These instructions can be edited, tagged, searched, and indexed by the URLs embedded in them. In theory that will enable us to pool our experiential knowledge of web applications. In practice, we’ll see. Koala has yet to emerge from IBM’s research lab. But you’ve got to love the idea.

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