I really like Twitter, and everything I love must be destroyed, so in late 2011 I started hacking on it. The results are below, and inconclusive.
My mom is a teaching librarian at two small, rural public schools in Kentucky. In December of 2015, she tried her hand at crowdfunding, seeking to buy some robots and Legos for her kids to tinker with and learn from. I asked my friends to help out with the campaign, and in just a few hours the results cracked my heart wide open.
I talked to her on the phone that afternoon, and one of the things she said stuck with me: "I just thought it was pie in the sky. Eight hundred dollars." When you run a mid-sized Kickstarter, being eight hundred bucks from your goal means it's time to get your champagne bottle ready. But that was the entire amount Mom asked for. For Ms. W and her students, that was a huge, implausible sum, and it could change someone's life.
So I decided that in 2016 I'm going to give at least eight hundred dollars to Donors Choose. I'd rather spend it with certainty than pledge it and wait, so I wanted to give to campaigns that were closing in on the finish line. And that's what @donorschamps finds: classroom requests for exciting projects, preferably for high-poverty schools, that just need a little more to be successful.
Usually my Twitter tricks are closer to games than bots; Donors Champs is the reverse. But I can tell you with certainty that the payoff from using it really feels like a win.
Who wants to find you? Who do you miss?
Missed connections ads are fascinating, and they should work out more often than they do. Found Connexions is a way to make that happen. It's an account with open DMs; if you send it an ad (like "You: a bottle. Me: a message. Let's go to sea"), the robot will post it anonymously. If someone retweets that ad, they're responding, saying hey--I could be a bottle. If you then retweet an ad they sent in, Found Connexions will be very happy, and it will write you both a little story about how you met.
FC can't post anything longer than 140 characters, obviously, or anything with a URL (including pictures). Hate speech, as always, gets you banned. If you want to play, please be generous and kind, but don't be too careful. Putting an ad out there should have a frisson of risk. FC will never tell which ads are yours, but clever connecters may be able to deduce a thing or two.
There are lots of sex robots disguised as humans on Twitter, and they're all bad at their jobs. It's about time we disguised humans as sex robots and showed them a thing or two.
First, you follow The Sext Exchange, and then you wait for it to follow you back. When you direct-message it something that starts with "sext:", it'll send you something that starts with "sext:" back. Later, it'll send your sext (anonymously) to someone else. This will continue happening until everyone involved gets very tired. The Sext Exchange also listens to some other commands via DM, such as "flag," which will mark the last thing you got as needing investigation and will automatically prevent you from receiving any more messages created by that person. Spam or hate speech, of course, will get you permanently ejected from the sexting parlor.
Starpilot is a viral Twitter client that uses your favorites to hack your account. You read that correctly. Click on the thing to see how it works.
I have never been particularly attached to my name, so I crowdsourced it. You can change the contents of my Twitter account's "real name" field by tweeting at me; it'll get picked up if it is 20 or fewer characters (minus @-names) and contains a B, R, E, D, A and two Ns.
The bot checks my replies about every six minutes, and it's lazy, so in the case of a namespace collision the most recent qualifier wins! It is not case-sensitive, but Twitter will reject certain names for mysterious reasons. To check whether the name you have in mind qualifies, you can use William O'Neil's handy widget.
My friend Leonard, who helped me come up with this idea to begin with, dragged it further into absurdity by creating a robot that talks to my robot: @everybrendan. I'm sure James Joyce and Jane Austen would appreciate knowing that their work lasted long enough to be ground up by machines and turned into imaginary bird sounds.
In April of 2012 I posted my ten thousandth tweet and decided to let everyone on the Internet use my account to do whatever they wanted. This went about as well as you already expect. When I got out of Twitter Jail I plugged the web form into its own account with a scary face on it. People use it for weird jokes now, and sometimes anonymous venting, and those are both fine. You can do it yourself if you want. (Hate speech or spam gets your shit blocked, duh.)
This one was @endoftheshow's idea. You know how you listen to songs sometimes? And you really want to just post that one good line on your twitter? But everybody else hates when you do that and also it might reveal a little too much about your current infatuation? Put it in @Lyricryptic instead!
A while back I needed a place to stash my internalized fat hatred and body shame, so I made a second Brendan Twitter account. Then a "friend" of mine noticed and made a third, which was both far more lewd and far more popular. So thirty other people did it too.
I don't know, man. I am really not famous enough to have a cottage industry devoted to my identity theft. (The aforementioned Leonard built a dada Brendan generator in hopes of exhausting the joke, to no avail.) Most of these are dormant, for which I am grateful, but I am also braced for the fact that mentioning the phenomenon here will likely lead to another spate of the little bastards.