Making Machines that Make Meaning
360 pp., 6 x 9 in, 98 b&w illus.
- Published: August 17, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: September 11, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
The world of Twitterbots, from botdom's greatest hits to bot construction to the place of the bot in the social media universe.
Twitter offers a unique medium for creativity and curiosity for humans and machines. The tweets of Twitterbots, autonomous software systems that send messages of their own composition into the Twittersphere, mingle with the tweets of human creators; the next person to follow you on Twitter or to “like” your tweets may not a person at all. The next generator of content that you follow on Twitter may also be a bot. This book examines the world of Twitterbots, from botdom's greatest hits to the hows and whys of bot-building to the place of bots in the social media landscape.
In Twitterbots, Tony Veale and Mike Cook examine not only the technical challenges of bending the affordances of Twitter to the implementation of your own Twitterbots but also the greater knowledge-engineering challenge of building bots that can craft witty, provocative, and concise outputs of their own. Veale and Cook offer a guided tour of some of Twitter's most notable bots, from the deadpan @big_ben_clock, which tweets a series of BONGs every hour to mark the time, to the delightful @pentametron, which finds and pairs tweets that can be read in iambic pentameter, to the disaster of Microsoft's @TayAndYou (which “learned” conspiracy theories, racism, and extreme politics from other tweets). They explain how to navigate Twitter's software interfaces to program your own Twitterbots in Java, keeping the technical details to a minimum and focusing on the creative implications of bots and their generative worlds. Every Twitterbot, they argue, is a thought experiment given digital form; each embodies a hypothesis about the nature of meaning making and creativity that encourages its followers to become willing test subjects and eager consumers of automated creation.
Some bots are as malevolent as their authors. Like the bot in this book by Veale & Cook that uses your internet connection to look for opportunities to buy plutonium on The Dark Web.”
"If writing is like cooking then this new book about Twitter 'bots' is like Apple Charlotte made with whale blubber instead of butter.”
These bot critiques generated at
"Spend a while with Twitterbots, a broad, deep, and lively book, to learn about a new art form and a rich area of computational creativity. Read it closely and you'll discover historical, social, political, and literary contexts; technical aspects of bot making from APIs to grammars to Java specifics; how to understand ninjas using semantic frames; and how images as well as texts can be automatically woven. Twitterbots is not only a thorough study but also offers enough instruction that you, too, can learn from it how to make a machine to 'set upon a golden bough to sing / To lords and ladies of Byzantium / Of what is past, or passing, or to come.'"
Nick Montfort, Author of The Truelist and other computer-generated books
"Veale and Cook's Twitterbots is an offbeat yet intelligent meditation on the affordances of Twitter as a platform for creative expression, interwoven with concrete techniques for creating computational creativity systems that produce output with real humor and heart."
Allison Parrish, Professor, Computer Programmer, Poet, and Game Designer, New York University
"This book guides the reader on a far-ranging tour through the world of Twitterbots: their technology and influences, the bots that we play games with, and the bots that play games with us. Experienced bot experts may discover the lineage that their bots share with other cultural forms. Those who are merely bot-curious will find a friendly guide to help them 'Make Something that Makes Something.'"
Kate Compton, bot writer and creator
"According to Amazon, people who bought this sensitive book about computational creativity also bought:-Oliver Sacks's 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat'-Ayn Grass's 'The Poet Who Enjoys Gardening'How very sensitive!"
"Some bots are as malevolent as their authors. Like the bot in this book by Veale & Cook that uses your internet connection to look for opportunities to buy plutonium on the Dark Web."
*Bot-generated critiques. Generate more at https://cheapbotsdonequick.com/source/PROSECCOnetwork and https://cheapbotsdonequick.com/source/BotOnBotActionThe regenerate buttons are in the bottom-right corners of these pages.
"If writing is like cooking then this new book about Twitter 'bots' is like Apple Charlotte made with whale blubber instead of butter."
This is not only a fascinating book but a fun one, an exhaustive and ultimately endearing natural history of an ominous little beast we all deal with every day.
Open Letters Review