The silly side of tech: Put Clippy on your Web site with this startup’s nostalgic hack

OK, the first question we’ve got to ask is: Why?

Why on Earth would someone want to recreate Clippy, the highly-annoying paperclip virtual assistant that popped up on versions of Microsoft Office from 1997 to 2oo3. Clippy was hated by many users since it interfered with daily tasks on the computer, and it was eventually killed off.

But that’s not stopping Smore, a graduate of TechStars Seattle, from recreating the virtual assistant. As part of a weekend project, which appears to be more of a PR stunt than anything else, the company is offering code that essentially puts Clippy on to your Web site.

“Add Clippy or his friends to any website for instant nostalgia,” the Smore team writes. “Our research shows that people love two things: failed Microsoft technologies and obscure Javascript libraries. Naturally, we decided to combine the two.”

Here’s more of the explanation in the flyer created by Smore, which also offers the code developers can use to install the new-and-improved Clippy.

During lunch a few weeks ago we thought it would be cool to have a fully functional Clippy that can be embedded in any website. We fiddled around with it and we had an unexpected amount of fun laughing at Clippy and his antics.

We started thinking about the developers’ state of mind when they created Clippy. Did they think it would really help people? It seems that Microsoft really believed that Assistants were the way of the future.

We built Clippy.js over the weekend to share that fun and whimsy with everyone, and to remind people to try new and risky things, even when they seem silly.

Turns out that people really love Clippy. According to Smore co-founder Gilad Avidan, the service is getting a Tweet every minute after launching about an hour ago. So far, about 5,000 people have tried it.

What’s next up for Smore? A rebirth of Microsoft Bob?

This isn’t the first time that Clippy has made a reappearance. Last year, you might recall that Microsoft brought back the virtual character for an Office training game.