Monday, November 4, 2013

Case Study No. 1094: RefBot of Syracuse University

Misguided members of the Syracuse University iSchool bring you "RefBot," a terrifying tale of a world without librarians! NOTE: "Are You Alive" is the property of Richard Gibbs. FURTHER NOTE: Apologies for the subtitles.
Tags: librarians robots ischool IST 511
Added: 2 years ago
From: cartermagnus
Views: 71

[scene opens in a meeting room, as two female members of the Syracuse University board of directors discuss the school's budget]
LACKEY: Okay. So, to solve our budget problems, I think I finally figured something out ... We're gonna replace all the librarians with robots. We'll call them "RefBots!"
[the board director (whose back is to the camera) nods in approval]
BOARD DIRECTOR: Excellent! There's nothing those sweater-wearing shelf-jockeys can do that a machine can't do better.
[cut to the library, as a "robot" (i.e. someone wearing a cardboard box over their head covered in tinfoil) stands behind the front desk, when a female student approaches]
FEMALE STUDENT: Um, yeah. I'm doing a paper on offensive cultural gestures, and I need to know what "flipping the bird" means. Can you help me?
[the robot (without moving) addresses her in a robotic monotone voice]
REFBOT: Affirmative. Observe.
[it proceeds to throw a stuffed bird at the student]
[the student picks up the bird]
FEMALE STUDENT: Oh. No, I didn't mean it literally. It's like, it's a saying. It's, um--
REFBOT: You need clarification?
FEMALE STUDENT: Yeah, not literal birds. It's--
REFBOT: Certainly.
[it throws another stuffed bird at the student]
FEMALE STUDENT: No, this is just another bird. I don't--
[it throws another stuffed bird at the student, then cut to a male student walking through the library holding a cup of coffee, as the robot holds out its hand to stop him]
REFBOT: Halt. Violation. Violation.
MALE STUDENT: Excuse me?
REFBOT: No beverages in the library.
MALE STUDENT: It's eight-thirty in the morning, they always let us bring coffee in.
REFBOT: A library is no place for nourishment. Also, liquid is my mortal enemy.
[it holds out its hand]
REFBOT: Surrender beverage.
MALE STUDENT: No, I just paid for this--
REFBOT: Surrender beverage.
[the robot grabs for the coffee, then cut back to the front desk, as the female student walks up holding a book]
FEMALE STUDENT: Hey, I'm returning this book.
[it picks up the book and examines it]
REFBOT: Overdue material. Overdue material.
REFBOT: Late fee is thirty-five cents.
FEMALE STUDENT: No, that's not due until the end of the day. It's still like noon.
REFBOT: Surrender payment.
FEMALE STUDENT: I don't, I don't have any cash on me. I'm sorry.
[the robot puts down the book and starts walking towards the student]
REFBOT: Surrender payment.
REFBOT: Surrender payment.
[cut to the robot standing in the library again, when another male student enters the scene]
[it steps in front of the student]
REFBOT: Your demographic is at risk for drug use and gang involvement. Statistically, if you come with me, you will have a greater chance of avoiding death and unemployment.
[it grabs the student by the arm and leads him away, then cut back to the front desk, as the female student is leafing through a book]
FEMALE STUDENT: Hey, y'know, I've heard of this book, but I'm not sure if I should get it. Do you, is it any good? Have you heard about it?
[she hands the book to the robot, who takes a second to examine it]
REFBOT: No. You will not enjoy it. It is missing four periods. Also, it contains ten words that are not in my dictionary. It is unintelligible.
[it hands the book back to the student, who has a confused look on her face]
FEMALE STUDENT: Okay ... thanks.
[cut back to the meeting room, as the robot stands behind the lackey as she types on her laptop]
LACKEY: Alright, RefBot. We need to work through this catalog and just weed stuff out. We don't have room for all of this anymore.
[the robot points at the laptop]
REFBOT: Delete item six-seventy-five.
LACKEY: Are you kidding me? The Oxford English Dictionary?! A lot of classes use that book. We can't, we can't get rid of that.
REFBOT: It is a print dictionary. Print dictionaries are archaic. Therefore, the Oxford English Dictionary is archaic.
[the lackey rubs her head in frustration]
LACKEY: I think your circuits are archaic ...
[the robot suddenly moves in close to the lackey]
REFBOT: Delete item six-seventy-five!
[she hastily types on her laptop]
[cut to the lackey and the robot standing in the breakroom, as she tries to pour herself a cup of coffee]
REFBOT: And so then I said, "That is no microwave, that is my mother."
[the lackey rolls her eyes, but the robot continues with its emotionless delivery]
REFBOT: Ha. Ha. Ha.
[the lackey shakes her head, as the robot looks around]
REFBOT: Do you know if they have synthetic oil? I am a bit of a snob.
[cut back to the meeting room, as the director (still with her back to the camera) talks with the lackey]
BOARD DIRECTOR: Maybe we were getting a little ahead of ourselves. RefBot just isn't a good enough substitute. I guess we'll have to ...
[she sighs loudly]
BOARD DIRECTOR: Hire real librarians again.
LACKEY: You're right. I mean, who wants to interact with a big chrome toaster, anyway?
[they both laugh, then the camera pans over to show the robot standing at the other end of the room, as it shakes its fist at the camera]


RefBot/Board Director: Rei Becker
Lackey/Student A: Stephanie Helsher
Students B & C: Matt Gunby


Camera: Matt Gunby, Stephanie Helsher
Editing: Rei Becker, Stephanie Helsher


"Are You Alive? / Battlestar Galactica Main Title"
by Richard Gibbs

Special thanks to Matt Gunby - we're still not sure why you agreed to help us

Additional thanks to Bird Library

No thanks to Windows Live Movie Maker - you are weaker than your predecessors

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