Discover like-minded artists and designers from around India and the UK with Dara, India’s first chatbot for creative professionals. Created by the British Council, the bot helps you connect with potential collaborators and a wider audience for ongoing projects. Believed to be one-of-a-kind, Dara came into existence as a result of the British Council’s Open Call for Digital Arts (2018), and has been conceptualized and developed by Bengaluru-based tech artist Archana Prasad and Sean Blagsvedt, head of international growth of Marco Polo, a video communication app. The project has been funded by the British Council for its objective of democratization of the arts.
Prasad is the founder of Jaaga, a Bengaluru-based firm which provides programmes and spaces for creative people, initiatives and enterprises. She believes that the project is in sync with her own practice. “My work is about creating spaces where the creative community and the technology community can meet each other. While a lot of our work is Bengaluru-centric and based on the ground, with Dara we wanted to create something scalable and online,” she says.
The chatbot has been envisioned as a digital friend with deep networks in the creative sector. The makers hope that with time Dara will be able to connect people across the network through email as well as offline interactions. “Dara could host multiple gatherings across cities, inviting people from her network to meet one another. Another way could be aiding people based in, say, Bengaluru and London initiate conversation online and help them embark on a collaboration,” says Prasad.
Initial research involved inviting around 25 respondents from the two countries, drawing from Prasad’s personal network. They were consulted at every stage of the design process. Two months ago, the British Council organized a dinner for 75 creative professionals. These invitees had a history of cultural and creative collaboration. “They were requested to nominate one-two persons. These nominees were then called in for a second event in May this year and became the registered users for Dara,” says Prasad.
The chatbot works on a progressive web application that leverages any browser, be it Chrome or Safari. Dara is also present on Facebook. The team is considering a downloadable app, but that will have to wait for now. “We have 294 users at this point, with a spike in the last two weeks,” says Prasad.