|July 01, 2003 [posted]|
|Virtual Representative Provides 24/7 Access to NLM Information|
he National Library of Medicine has launched Cosmo, a virtual customer service representative, developed by the NLM Reference and Customer Services Section using self-service interactive management software produced by NativeMinds of San Francisco, CA.
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Cosmo can be found at http://wwwns.nlm.nih.gov or at the Contact NLM Web site (see Figure 1). His job is to answer basic questions about the Library and its products and services.
Cosmo is familiar with the more than 200 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and nearly 100 Fact Sheets on the NLM Web site. He can answer questions about Library hours and parking; he can give directions to the Library; and he can list available databases.
In addition, Cosmo can refer users to the basic health information found in MedlinePlus, NLM's consumer health Web site. He can also answer drug-related questions with MedlinePlus drug information. If you ask Cosmo about one of the more than 600 health topics found in MedlinePlus, he will direct you to the appropriate Web pages on that topic. For example, the query, "What can you tell me about AIDS?" results in a listing of links to six different AIDS-related Web pages (see Figure 2).
Examples of questions Cosmo can answer are:
Examples of questions that are beyond Cosmo's scope are:
Although the Ask Cosmo Web site has the appearance of a "live chat" page, there is no live interaction taking place. Cosmo uses NeuroScript® to construct topics that are answered by detailed pattern lists that match, as closely as possible, the content of the questions asked of him.
NLM Reference Staff continue to develop Cosmo's knowledge base. Staff constantly review his conversation logs, so that, when necessary, they can enhance or de-bug his response repertoire. By monitoring his performance, NLM Reference Staff enable Cosmo to become ever smarter with each new user question.
Glazer A. Virtual Representative Provides 24/7 Access to NLM Information. NLM Tech Bull. 2003 Jul-Aug;(333):e2.