Why did this happen now? We’ve had update_with_media on Twitter via the API since August 2011, so you could upload pictures for a long time. We got a “rich photo experience” in September . […] But the short answer is I don’t know why we’ve had this capability for a year and nobody’s done anything with it until now in terms of transforming image bots.
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The point being that this isn’t just some random thing about Rube Goldberg machines, it’s also about changes in art. It’s a broad pattern that happens whenever there’s a major technological shift, at least for the last hundred years. You get these useless machines that self-justify.
But most interesting was just going bonkers with this data in “gonzo mode” and incorporating as much as possible: Viral Plague Sci-Fi Movies Based on Children’s Books Set in Europe for Ages 8 to 10; or First Love Slice of Life Musicals Set in Europe From the 19820s For Hopeless Romantics; Bounty-Hunter Fantasy Movies Based on Books About Cats.
I guess the two questions that I ask myself when I’m making a bot are what resources and corpora should I use, and how can I manipulate this in interesting ways to come up with tweets that are more signal than noise. A lot of the time it’s actually really hard to generate language that is signal and not noise. And I aim to get a lot of signal in my bots.
I made a bot called @corruptum, and he uses a lot of copyrighted content in his corpus, so I was wondering whether it was legal and whether its use qualified as Fair Use.
I wrote a letter to my local representative, and he wrote me back and it was this boilerplate of all this bullshit. So I was reading it and just mentally crossing off line after line of bullshit, so I decided to make a bot that does that for me. What it does is it goes into an API that lists members of Congress and their Twitter accounts, picks one at random, picks their most recent tweet, and it retweets it but replaces a certain percentage of all the characters of that tweet with black or gray rectangles so that the remaining amount of letters that you get to actually read is equivalent to the current level of Congress’ approval rating, which I get from The Huffington Post’s API.
So what I did was I made a pretty powerful anti-harassment tool, and I’m kind of leery of… It’s one of those things that like I, I feel weird about it because I don’t have a tremendous use for it myself, but I know that other people do. And I’ve talked to people about this, and I sort of made the decision not to put it on Github or be public about it for mainly the reason that I think Twitter is kind of weird with harassment, and I think they’re weird with blocking, and I think they have a strange track record of making the tools that are useful to people who are trying to protect themselves and be safer sort of weirdly harder to access and kind of obscure.
I think there’s a set of bizarre individuals in the Capitol building that once they realized that @congressedits was there and had a lot of followers, they were adding these crazy things to Wikipedia. So in this case somebody’s saying Rumsfeld was an alien lizard.