“NRA Tally (@NRA_Tally)” by Mark Sample

Tweets Following Followers 159 0 24 NRA Tally @NRA_Tally Keeping score of the NRA's greatest hits. Fairfax, Virginia everyadage Kathi Inman Berens Brett O'Connor Alex Gil Followed by everyadage, Kathi Inman Berens, Brett O'Connor and 2 others. NRA Tally ‏@NRA_Tally 38m 30 postal workers killed in San Francisco with a AR-15 assault rifle. The NRA steps up lobbying efforts. Details NRA Tally ‏@NRA_Tally 4h 22 restaurant diners murdered in Jacksonville with a 10mm Glock. The NRA reports a fivefold increase in membership.
Open “NRA Tally (@NRA_Tally)” by Mark Sample

Created in the wake of a mass shooting event in Isla Vista, California, this bot takes aim at the National Rifle Association and the rhetorical strategies it uses to protect the industry and gun culture it lobbies for. He accompanied it with a manifesto titled “A protest bot is a bot so specific you can’t mistake it for bullshit: A call for bots of conviction” in which he invites the creation of bots which are “topical, data-based, cumulative, and oppositional” (here’s an updated version). He also explains how his bot @NRA_Tally meets these characteristics and goes into great detail on the data sources that inform the bot’s generation of murderous hypothetical scenarios, such as this one:

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@DependsUponBot, @JustToSayBot, and @BlackBoughBot by Mark Sample

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Open @BlackBoughBot, @DependsUponBot, & @JustToSayBot by Mark Sample

This trio of bots by Mark Sample present riffs on three of the most famous poems of the early Twentieth Century: William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say,” and Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro.” The bots generate new versions of the poems by randomly altering most of the open word classes while keeping the basic syntax, meter and lineation intact, tweeting a new mutation once every two hours (though at the time of writing @DependsUponBot has been inactive since December 2014, for reasons unknown —editor’s note: it has now resumed operations). To my mind, the pleasure of these bots’ tweets lies in the discrepancy between the familiarity of the syntactical structure and the limit-case absurdity of the randomly generated content. For example, the sublime juxtaposition Pound presents the reader –

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“Save the Humanities (@SaveHumanities)” by Mark Sample

 Save the Humanities @SaveHumanities  Daily tips on how to stop the crisis in the humanities. Real solutions! (Machine Generated by @samplereality)
Open “Save the Humanities (@SaveHumanities)” by Mark Sample

At face value this bot seeks solutions to what many call “the crisis of the Humanities” by offering “tips on how to stop the crisis in the humanities. Real solutions!” Its operation is conceptually straightforward: it completes a sentence template that begins with “To save the humanities, we need to” and then completes the sentence, I imagine with the results of a search in Twitter for tweets that contain “we need to” or “we must.” This creates grammatically correct sentences that offer solutions that vary in their fit or appropriateness. For example:

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“Walt FML Whitman” by Mark Sample

Screen capture from "Walt FML Whitman" by Mark Sample. Walt FML Whitman home twitter page with two tweets at the bottom. Text: "The young sister holds out the skein, the elder sister winds it off in a ball and / sent them a request on accident #FML" "Well I was supposed to compete at Del Oro tomorrow, but thanks to stupid / shin splints and the plank is thrown for the shoregoing passengers"
Open “Walt FML Whitman” by Mark Sample

This poetic mashup Twitter bot places Walt Whitman in conversation with contemporary people expressing their frustrations in social networks. To be precise, he repurposes Darius Kazemi’s “Latour Swag” code to remix two different Twitter sources: @TweetsOfGrass and original tweets with the #fml hashtag.

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“10 Print ebooks” by Mark Sample

Screen captures from "10 Print ebooks" by Mark Sample. Two small blocks of text in a white background. Text from box number one: "This was not interested in. Could easily be removed from years / afterward, purposeful designer" Text from box number two: "The value of purposeless play on computers. Bounded and the / player's in Asteroids can turn and fire in many first person games".
Open “10 Print ebooks” by Mark Sample

This Twitter bot generates tweets using two data sets: the text of the MIT Press book 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 and any tweets with the #10print hashtag. The generator uses a Markov chain process to analyze a text and determine the probability of any word following another to generate a new string of words that resembles the original and publishes it on Twitter. Here are some examples:

Screen capture from "10 Print ebooks" by Mark Sample. Five small blocks of text in a white background. Text from box number one: "The shape of the original. Possible to dictate the twisted line up / in 1999 by the supposed game rationality of the game aesthetics today." Text from Box number two: "Only recently have the meanings of random numbers". Text from box number three: "One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems, Strachey is dismissive of / his writing, lectures,  and classes". Text from Box number four: "Instead, The Maze War is poorly for studying telephone / book". Text from Box number five: "Once The original".

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[Apocryphal @samplereality] by Anonymous

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On January 31, 2013, Mark Sample’s Twitter account, @samplereality, went missing under mysterious circumstances involving a Dutch hitchiker, a very old book, and a fictitious closing of Dulles airport (read the previous entry for a more detailed account). His other social media accounts went silent also, and for a few days no one heard from him through those networks.

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“@samplereality” by Mark Sample

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Open “@samplereality” by Mark Sample

Mark Sample has disappeared from Twitter, or has he? The link above leads to an archive of all his Tweets, which reference his final tweets, ostensibly from a Dulles airport that was sealed up by FEMA, including a link to an video of him sending a message to his wife and family, that “the book is not what they think it is.” What is this book and what is the whole situation about?

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“Takei, George” by Mark Sample

Screen shot from “Takei, George” by Mark Sample. Yellow background. It is a poem and the verses are written in red.
Open “Takei, George” by Mark Sample

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