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. It’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 — 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]

Life is Chronological, But Social Media Can’t Be

In March 2016, Twitter made the switch away from a purely chronological timeline to one partially ordered by algorithms. By looking at Twitter’s origins — a simple way to update groups of people — the switch away from ordering information chronologically is more interesting than it first seems, and represents the state of the internet and the way we use it in 2017.

The origins of Twitter

When it started, Twitter (or twttr as it was then called) was just an SMS service linked to a website.

Famously influential tech critic Om Malik wrote the world’s first blog post on Twitter a few months after it launched.…   [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 makes 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:

BotWiki’s been a fascinating project for me lately.…   [continue reading]

Your Bot Art Belongs in a Museum

Recently I interviewed BotWiki founder Stefan Bohacek on the distinction between art made by a human and art made by a machine. “If you think art is these deep thoughts expressed by a human, then of course what bots make isn’t art”, he said. “If you think art is anything that looks good, then bots make art”.

Thinking more on the issue, I realized that a bot’s output is just the randomized result of human input. Even advanced bots with neural networks either learn from human input or learn from other bots that were programmed by humans. In the end, there’s no distinction between art created by bots and humans because humans are the ones that set boundaries for the bot and say what it can and can’t generate.…   [continue reading]

WWE BackLash 2017 [LIVE TWEET STREAM/REPORT]

As SmackDown‘s first dedicated PPV post-WrestleMania, my expectations for BackLash were as low as they were for Payback. In fact, if anything, my expectations were a little lower. However you try to dance around it, SmackDown‘s a B-show. That doesn’t mean it can’t bring some compelling things to the table. It’s just that, by and large, you can always look to Raw for a bit of added spectacle. With a main event pitching Jinder Mahal against Randy Orton, my hopes were far from high. The only thing on the card of real intrigue, to me, was the inevitable debut of Shinsuke Nakamura on a WWE main roster.…   [continue reading]

WWE Payback 2017 [LIVE TWEET STREAM/REPORT]

In the wake of a largely enjoyable WrestleMania, I always expected Payback this year to naturally fall short. The lead-in to it was weak. Its card didn’t seem to present anything of any intrigue. After all, the superstar shake-up was quite a heavy distraction. That aside, there was still plenty of room for something to be pulled out of the bag. On the whole, it would be fair to describe Payback as a slightly below-par affair. However, with the inclusion of the awful “House of Horrors” match, I can’t help but give this a pretty resoundingly negative review.

There wasn’t really a single segment of this PPV that engaged me.…   [continue reading]

WrestleMania 33 [LIVE TWEET STREAM/REPORT]

I always watch WrestleMania live. Wrestling is one of the odder things that we cover at Secret Cave, but it’s such a magnificent theatre for the absurd. I intend, at some point, to post something explanatory on my love for it. Until then, last night was WrestleMania and i’m still reeling from how good it was. It’s been a while since WrestleMania truly gripped me, but this one was pretty much great from start to finish. Focusing heavily on the in-ring product, it’s the first time in a while I found myself wishing for more storyline. That said, the athleticism and ring psychology was strong throughout.…   [continue reading]

I’m Not Saying Andy Tyrrell Should Join Twitter

This is written in response to an article here by Andy Tyrrell, my father.

Est Pater meus, cunnus; it is true that my father is a cunt. Puffed up by the bitter fats of aged failure, only a taxi driver could spit such vitriol at something he doesn’t understand. This is why, as a hackney carriage operator himself, Andy Tyrrell concentrates on pedantry for the base of his criticism. None of this is to denigrate his obvious intelligence either, which is clear from his rampant eloquence.  Where my dad falls down, however, probably lies in the fact that he has no Twitter account.…   [continue reading]

Farewell Hilary Shaw

On Tuesday 20th December, at 5:30 pm GMT I stood up and stretched, working out a crick in my back which had settled after 9 hours in the same chair.

The work call had just ended, with my next post set up and scheduled, ready to go the next day automatically.

On a whim, I decided to check my Twitter, expecting some kind of backlash at the Rogue One review that went live the day before.

“@Ben__Mulholland Hi Ben Mulholland”

This message from Gabriele Palmer seemed a little odd, mainly because I had (and still have) a paltry amount of followers – I’m not important enough to make spam worthwhile or to inspire any real interest in striking up a conversation out of the blue.…   [continue reading]