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Love at First #Bot

← blog ⋅ Sarah Quigley ⋅ March 5 2019

How I fell in love with a Twitter bot (and you could too)

All hail our robot overlords. Robots illustrated by ATTCK developer Sarah Quigely

All hail our robot overlords!

 

Tool for propaganda, political manipulation, insidious marketing, and spam, spam, spam (!), Twitter and its bots have been getting a slew of bad press lately. What’s often left out of this story is the rich ecosystem of well-intentioned bots—weird, practical and artistic—that Twitter plays host to.

I was a latecomer to the world of Twitter bots… In fact (confession time), I never quite saw the purpose of Twitter (in my life at least) until I discovered its bots. My first, and still greatest, love in #botland is @MagicalRealismBot, created by @chrisrodley and @yeldora_, which posts a piece of magical realist micro-fiction every four hours.

Ever peculiar, always compelling, and occasionally intoxicatingly beautiful, what so impresses me about @MagicalRealismBot is how fluidly each story reads—a feat achieved by relatively few bots creating procedurally generated text.

Since my meet-cute with @MagicalRealismBot, I’ve discovered many more bots—odd, benevolent and occasionally sublime—to capture my attention. Let me share a few of my favorites with you… Perhaps you’ll find the #bot of your dreams among them. ❤

The Odd

These bots are weird, no question about it.

@beakeringnews

Created by: @pgengler

Breaking, or beakering? Meep through the latest news stories with @beakeringnews, news delivered by everyone’s favourite Muppet lab assistant, Beaker. When I’m feeling bleak about the times we live in, @beakeringnews is sure to uplift me. Meep meep meeeep meeeep meep. Meep.

@leastUsedEmoji

Created by: @nocturnalbadger

On an internet mad for data analytics, @leastUsedEmoji tracks the most vital piece of data of all: the least popular emoji on Twitter. It pulls its information from emojitracker, an excellent visualisation of emoji usage on Twitter by @mroth. One of the cooler aspects of this bot is watching followers attempt to boost those least-loved emojis from their positions in the bottom rungs by posting replies full of emojis. Let the battle of the emojis begin!

@louistherouxbot

Created by: @ultrabrilliant

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux‘s bot alter ego @louistherouxbot travels the world making oddly compelling, or just plain odd, randomly generated documentaries. What I love about this bot is how it treads that sweet line between plausible and absurd.

@infinite_scream


Created by: @NoraReed

Two hundred and twenty thousand plus screams and counting, @infinite_scream keeps screaming into the void so you don’t have to. Try visiting it in your darker moments… There’s something strangely cathartic about endlessly scrolling through that wall of wails.

The Benevolent

These bots do good work. Yay!

@TheNiceBot


Created by: Anonymous

On an internet seemingly rife with mean-spirited curmudgeons, bullying trolls, and spambots, @TheNiceBot is nice—really nice (but sadly inactive). Once tweeting random messages of niceness at Twitter users, @TheNiceBot brought niceness to our hearts, and our Twitter feeds. Missing you badly, @TheNiceBot!

@_grammar_

Created by: @victor_zheng

You’re grammar, its woeful! @_grammar_ is Twitter’s very own grammar police, correcting your errors one tweet at a time. As @_grammar_ says: “To publish solecisms is to abase oneself!”

@dailyglacier

Created by: @agrinsted

@dailyglacier displays two images of the same glacier taken a decade apart, highlighting the effects of climate change. I have seen few visualisations of climate change that so simply and viscerally convey its consequences.

@censusAmericans

Created by: @FiveThirtyEight

@censusAmericans tweets shorts biographies of anonymous individuals recorded in American census data between 2009 and 2013. By turning this data into simple prose, @censusAmericans provides a touching and humanizing glimpse into the lives of strangers.

The Sublime

These bots are just plain beautiful, *swoon*.

@str_voyage

Created by: @joebaxterwebb

@str_voyage tells the tale of a vessel infinitely voyaging at sea, of a community of sea dwellers making their life on that craft. Serene, ethereal, @str_voyage provides an escape into a simpler way of life.

@infinitedeserts

Created by: @getdizzzy

@infinitedeserts creates procedurally generated ASCII art deserts. There is something sublimely peaceful about the barren simplicity of the typographical landscapes it generates.

@mothgenerator

Created by: @everestpipkin and @lorenschmidt

@mothgenerator is an art bot generating unique and intricately beautiful images of moths. By captioning each drawing with a fake scientific name, the bot’s feed becomes an ever-growing collection of naturalist illustrations. Best of all, if you tweet @mothgenerator, you will receive in reply a one-of-a-kind moth, seeded and named using the text of your tweet. With its perfect aesthetic, and with each moth more captivating than the next, it’s all the more humbling to remember that these images are generated by an algorithm.

As Twitter becomes increasingly restrictive in the API it offers, making it ever harder to deploy bots (even benevolent ones), it’s worth taking a moment to remember that #NotAllBots are evil—to appreciate, celebrate, and support the awesome work done by so many wonderful Twitter bot makers. ❤ So go, explore, and see if you too can find love in #botland.

Interested in discovering more odd, benevolent, and sublime Twitter bots? We’ll be publishing a series highlighting more of Twitter’s loveliest bots. Alternatively, meet one awesome randomly chosen bot each day by following Sarah‘s Twitter bot @botsofalltime—and find your love at first #bot.

Tags: Tips & Tricks
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