How Horse_ebooks Changed Internet Poetry Forever

What’s the difference between a tweet written by a human and a tweet generated by a machine?

In a lot of cases, it’s difficult to tell. Twitter bot developers are allowed unbridled creativity, and Twitter’s open API makes it a place where a bot can do pretty much anything. For example, Nathan Bernard (a developer we interviewed in season 2 of our podcast) tweets both manually and automatically. The automatic side of his account runs a script designed to get the first reply to any Donald Trump tweet. Itโ€™s even engineered to match its reply to the original tweet, making it harder to discern whether or not a bot is at work behind the scenes.…   [continue reading]

Through the Lens of @FFD8FFDB: Art by Security Cameras

If you hang around near unsecured security cameras, you might accidentally appear on @FFD8FFDB, an automated Twitter art project run by developer Derek Arnold. The bot is connected to a range of unsuspecting cameras across the U.S. and tweets a screenshot from a random one every 20 minutes.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound particularly appealing. In fact, one of Arnold’s goals was to get any response at all, even a disinterested reaction. The project isn’t supposed to be creepy or menacing โ€” which is often the aesthetic of a security camera. Instead, the images are framed as “beautiful, rather than filthy”, he writes in an article explaining why he chose to start the project.…   [continue reading]

Stefan Bohacek Interview: The Ethics and Humanity of Bots

Stefan Bohacek is the founder of BotWiki, a project that aims to catalog the useful, friendly and artistic bots of the world. He also has a number of side-projects on his site, fourtonfish.com. The projects include Detective, a chat-based game that randomly pairs you with a human or a bot and makesย you decide which you’re chatting with.

We spoke about the philosophy and ethics of bots, as well as the ideas behind BotWiki, Detective, and his other exciting projects.

Listen to the interview below:

Or read the transcript for all the links we refer to:

BotWikiโ€™s been a fascinating project for me lately.…   [continue reading]

The Art and Nonsense Poetry of Obscure Twitter Bots

Art and curation left in the hands of scripts and algorithms is fascinating, and nowhere more accessible than when on Twitter. There are a handful of bots that tweet varied and interesting art. Art that makes you wonder how useful humans are anyway, other than for coding thousands of these things.

Some bots on this list drip out material from a database, while some procedurally generate art, or mash up existing material in new ways.

My obsession with machine curated/created art has led me to hunt for more and more Twitter bots, and I’ve found and followed some great ones so far.…   [continue reading]