HSE Students Create Bot for Tired Muscovites
First-year students of the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design developed a bot that recommends quiet spots in the city for Muscovites searching for a place to sit and relax. In order to find a peaceful, secluded place within the Garden Ring, all you have to do is add Tired Muscovite in your Telegram app and activate it with a special command.
It all began with an assignment for a project seminar in the Media Communications Bachelor’s Programme. While discussing different ideas for their project, team members Antonina Yurchenko, Maria Rusanova, Anna Chernykh, Maria Pirozhkina, and Liya Sarbasova came up with the idea for Tired Muscovite. They compiled the addresses of 27 public gardens, parks, cozy libraries, and quiet cafes, and prepared descriptions and accompanying photos. Local media caught wind of the project, and less than a month later Tired Muscovite had amassed more than 2,000 subscribers.
According to Maria Rusanova, the team knew from the beginning stages that they wanted their project to be connected with Moscow and its residents. The students then came up with the idea of a ‘city map for introverts’. Over the course of working on the project, however, it became clear—you don’t have to be withdrawn or unsocial to crave alone time.
Liya Sarbasova, one of the bot creators
This is my third month living in Moscow, and this project was a great impetus for me to not be lazy and get out and explore the city—and spend time on my own. And this bot lets me know where I can do this. I myself am a shining example of Tired Muscovite’s target audience, because I am always in the centre. I get tired of the hordes of people; I’m always looking for a chance to have some time to myself away from it all. At times, it’s hard to believe how hard it can be to find a spot that’s not overcrowded with people. And if it’s a completely secluded area you’re after—don’t count on it.
While completing the project, the team encountered a problem with turning their idea into a reality. At the project defense, students are required to present project analytics, so the team decided to use a bot format. This allows them to collect information about which locations have been visited and not waste time on developing a new app. In its current format, the interaction between the bot and its users resembles a ‘quest’ or scavenger hunt: when the Tired Muscovite receives a request from a user, the bot recommends a quiet location where the user must not only relax but also find a code word. If the user doesn’t find the code word, the bot will not grant their next request for a quiet place. However, now that they have presented the project, the team members plan to get rid of this game-like aspect. Instead, they plan to turn the bot into a city map with a user chat option.
‘We are actually really surprised! The positive feedback we’ve received shows that we are going in the right direction. We will continue working on the bot and see where the project takes us. But the original concept of letting Muscovites find some respite will remain the same,’ says Liya Sarbasova.