In Defense of the Twitter Bot

(Day 22 of 30 Days of Blogging)

Remember before the time of the “Russian troll”, when Twitter bots carried a different connotation? They were fun little ideas like @PepitoTheCat and @big_ben_clock, never actually useful but just a bit of fun.

An aside, a few years back there were some who thought useful versions of chat bots would take off and become the next big Internet platform. That sure didn’t pan out the way we all expected… But I digress.

I tried creating a Twitter bot last year. Not the kind for social manipulation or content farming, but a bot that tweets every line from the Star Wars prequels. The process was trickier than I remembered it, with many verification hoops to jump through just to open and keep a developer account. If I wanted to write another bot I would have to go through the entire process again. That’s all 100% understandable given the clusterfuck that is Twitter, but it still made me a little sad.

Twitter used to be the wild west for stupid-fun experimental bots. Where is a stupid bot supposed to live now? Discord? Facebook Messenger? Fucking Slack?

Now with Flash dead and nothing good to replace it I’m feeling more and more like the web (and by extension the Internet) is no longer a hospitable place for weird, dumb shit. Everything is glossy, owned by 5 companies, with capital-C Content hyper-optimized for maximum engagement. It would be wrong to call modern Internet “boring”, but it could certainly be called “unsurprising”.

Part of why I started trying out this blogging thing is an attempt to homestead out a tiny patch of this Internet. We need blogs to make a comeback now more than ever.