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The Unbearable Lightness of Twitterbots

I was very sad when at a Bill Bailey comedy gig he made fun of the @big_ben_clock<?a> twitter account and the type of people that follow it. I’m one of those people! And I follow a number of other account (such as @Withnailizer and @Whooclock.)

The joy of some of these accounts is summed up in a recent Medium article examining the joys of the @horse_ebooks twitter account:

Trying to unpack Horse_ebooks is a bit like analyzing a joke. Study it too closely and the magic begins to evaporate. Of course, the account could disappear altogether at any moment.

As it turns out, Horse is something of a mirror on the internet, as it is apparently generated off search crawls and random concatenations of texts: something of a lorem ipsum of the actual internet. It is arguably the purest form of internet bot.

My curiousity in this article and the ‘art form’ (if there is an art form) of twitter bots does go beyond being a mere admirer. I actually run a couple of twitterbots myself (no, I’m not telling you what they are, other than that all bar two are quit Kiwi. OK, one of the non-Kiwi ones is @fauxcodesign). Though mine are pretty niche and at times neglected (two have around 100 followers each so it is small fry), I have to admit that I love not just having these weird characters out there, but also seeing the reactions I get from the accounts. I also have come to love going through the follower lists of these accounts: generally the type of people that are mad enough to follow these twitter bots are the type of people I’d kinda like to hang out with.