By Selva Freigedo – Port Phillip Insider Extra (Australia) –
‘Hello there! I don’t think we have been properly introduced — I’m Bonzi,’ said the purple gorilla as he waved.
Bonzi is an interactive cartoon, a gorilla that lives in the computer screen.
You may have heard of Bonzi before. He was the face of Bonzi Buddy, a software program distributed between 1999 and 2004. Once you installed the software, Bonzi would pop up on the screen as soon as you turned the machine on.
Bonzi was basically a virtual desktop assistant. The gorilla would tell you jokes and facts, help you surf the internet, and even respond to questions and commands. He would hang around the screen, swinging from vines until you asked for help. Sometimes, he would even argue or perform singing duets with his friend Peedy the parrot. (You can Google it if you don’t believe me.)
I first stumbled upon Bonzi Buddy while visiting a friend in the US. My friend loved Bonzi. She said Bonzi made her laugh.
I didn´t feel the same.
Apart from the annoyingly frequent — and sometimes even personal — questions, I found Bonzi’s penchant for swinging on vines around the screen distracting.
But there was something else about Bonzi that made me uncomfortable.
I felt watched — literally.
Bonzi was always there, watching you while you worked.
But who am I to judge? After all, what’s odd about a naked purple gorilla staring at you while eating a banana?
Yet, as it turns out, I was somewhat right about my friend’s ‘buddy’. That is, it may have been spying on me.