Meet Microsoft’s new search engine, Ms. Dewey. Some quick pros and cons:
Pros: She’s stylishly dressed, non-Caucasian, and young…thus, not playing into the “frumpy, bitter, white, and old” librarian stereotype.
Cons: She’s doesn’t exactly dress or act professionally. Stylish and sexy, yes. Professional, no. Just type “Yo Mama” into the search box and find that one out for yourself. Or wait for her to bust out the riding crop or the cat o’nine tails. I wish I was kidding.
Before you get all hot and bothered, I understand that this is Microsoft’s little Flash-based experiment. And it is pretty entertaining for a few minutes; the background is a little reminiscent of a cleaned-up “Dark City,” and Janina Gavankar ( the actress who plays Ms. Dewey) is certainly vivacious enough to hold your attention.
However, the actual searching abilities of the engine are, at least at the moment, both pretty sluggish and pretty sparse. Also, the “search results” box that appears is basically a smaller, fuzzier version of what you’d see if you used Google…without a scroll bar. And, once you’ve heard about three of the over-the-top sound bytes they’ve given Ms. Gavankar to act out, you’ll probably decide to put her on mute. A-nnoying.
I will give them kudos for creating an aesthetically pleasing interface, despite being a little skeeved by how much their “librarian” writhes and simpers as she “thinks. ” Really, how hard was it to go for an oldie-but-goodie like seductively nibbling on the edge of her glasses? Kidding.
Despite the stated negatives, I still believe this sort of re-packaging (and I mean that veeery generally) is something that librarians need to consider when they design their institution’s (or their own) online presence. I’m not suggesting that we all invest in low-cut tops (or, men, whatever your equivalent might be…codpieces?) and shimmy around in Flash movies to try to sex up our profession. What I am saying is that it wouldn’t hurt to try to keep alive a little of whatever is floating around in the pop-cultural ether that led to the campy, CGI-impaired, but still awesome “Librarian: Quest for the Spear.”
Don’t lie. I know you’ve seen it. Yes, you.