“Snowclone-a-Minute (@snowcloneminute)” by Bradley Momberger and “Pizza Clones (@pizzaclones)” by Allison Parrish

These two bots are based on the concept of snowclones, which are a linguistic phenomenon best described by Erin O’Connor in her wonderful blog and resource “The Snowclones Database.”

A snowclone is a particular kind of cliche, popularly originated by Geoff Pullum. The name comes from Dr. Pullum’s much-maligned “If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z”. An easier example might be “X is the new Y.” The short definition of this neologism might be n. fill-in-the-blank headline.

Fill in the blank mnemonic phrases? This is ripe for a bot treatment.

 Snowclone-a-Minute Tweets Following  Followers 128K 1 32 Snowclone-a-Minute @snowcloneminute  A mashup of http://snowclones.org  and http://wordnik.com , another weird Internet thing by @air_hadoken. Have a snowclone to add? Tweet it @air_hadoken!  twitter-joints.rhcloud.com Scott McNally BestOf TheBots Bot Enforcer Bot Bot Bot  Followed by Scott McNally, BestOf TheBots, Bot Enforcer Bot and 2 others.      Snowclone-a-Minute ‏@snowcloneminute Jun 16      ventergate     Details     Snowclone-a-Minute ‏@snowcloneminute Jun 16      communing is to tells what supplicates is to sidestepped     Details
Open “Snowclone-a-Minute (@snowcloneminute)” by Bradley Momberger

This bot was inspired by Darius Kazemi’s “Metaphor-a-Minute!” bot and it basically uses the snowclones from O’Connor’s database and combines them with words randomly pulled from Wordnik, an online dictionary and language service. Because there are so many possible combinations of templates and words– astronomical figures, really– the bot tweets a generated snowclone every two minutes.

The results are often funny and surprising, but because it tweets every two minutes, it has a way of dominating your Twitter stream. I like to follow it for short periods of time, visit its timeline, or enjoy its output when retweeted by a person or bot.

 Pizza Clones Tweets Following  Followers 2,840 0 185 Pizza Clones @pizzaclones  Every noun is an adjective noun under certain conditions. This bot generates jokes accordingly. Pic from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/6506214359/ …  decontextualize.com Brett O'Connor aparrish ghost logic analyzer Ranjit Bhatnagar  Followed by Brett O'Connor, aparrish, ghost logic analyzer and 7 others.      Pizza Clones ‏@pizzaclones 33m      Every sport is a major sport unless it involves driving a car around a track https://twitter.com/thelonghorns12/status/479077138876751873 … https://twitter.com/NotScottGreenly/status/478881079118815232 …     Details     Pizza Clones ‏@pizzaclones 3h      Every surprise is a big surprise if it was sabotage https://twitter.com/topOrioles/status/479034537939599361 … https://twitter.com/TheRealPsycrow/status/477183302273859584 …     Details
Open “Pizza Clones (@pizzaclones)” by Allison Parrish

This bot tweets every two hours an exploration of a snowclone joke described as “Every noun is an adjective noun under certain conditions.” Rather than pulling from Wordnik or some other online dictionary, the program draws from Twitter itself, as Parrish describes in this blog entry:

The bot works by first searching Twitter for tweets containing a phrase in the format “this isn’t a(n) {ADJECTIVE} {NOUN}” and then using a Pattern search to identify and extract the ADJECTIVE and NOUN. It then searches Twitter for phrases that match the string “{NOUN} if” (and “{NOUN} unless”, “{NOUN} as long as”, etc.), and extracts the rest of the clause following the “if.” (There’s some more NLP behind the scenes to ensure that the “if” clause will fit the joke syntax.) Then it jams the NOUN, ADJECTIVE and subordinate clause into the format of the joke and tweets it out to the world.

The bot links to the source tweets in its tweet, allowing the reader to follow the tweets and enjoy them individually or juxtaposed. The results are very readable, and are frequently funny because they offer strangely logical propositions.

Both of these snowclone-inspired bots offer endless explorations of a catchy concept captured in memorable language. Snowclones remind us of the power of orality that is still present in our culture, even as it shifts from traditional print-based literacy into an increasingly computational, digital, code literacy.

Featured in Genre: Bot

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