#gifandcircumstance by Allison Parrish

Screen capture from #gifandcircumstance by Adam Parrish. Team Illuminate's glow in the dark dance from America's Got Talent. Text: "If I were your man..."
Open #gifandcircumstance by Allison Parrish

This bot mines the Twitter stream for phrases starting with “when,” extracts the clauses, and joins each phrase with a randomly selected animated GIF in a Tumblr. Here’s a more detailed description from Parrish’s blog:

A “#whatshouldwecallme-style tumblr” is one in which animated GIFs are paired with a title expressing a circumstance or mood—usually a clause beginning with “when.” I wrote a Python script to make these kinds of posts automatically. Here’s what it does:

(1) Search Twitter for tweets containing the word “when.”
(2) Extract the “when” clause from such tweets.
(3) Use Pattern to identify “when” clauses with suitable syntax (i.e., clauses in which a subject directly follows “when”; plus some other heuristic fudging)
(4) Post the “when” clause as the title of a tumblr post, along with an animated GIF randomly chosen from the imgur gallery.

This is both a critique and homage of the #whatshouldwecallme tumblr and the meme it inspired. Memes are powerfully infectious prompts for creativity, and they are particularly interesting (from a poetic perspective) when they lead to constraint-based experimentation with language.

Parrish’s bot is a codification of the meme, seeking to represent the idea at its core— that it is basically a subset of the captioning meme with “when” phrases as captions. By automating their creation through mining two social media platforms for text and images, he critiques how minimally creative and ultimately tiresome this fad can be— though the original creator of #whatshouldwecallme does an admirable job of keeping the performance going strong and fresh. But Parrish also pushes it into the conceptual, uncreatively producing non-sequiturs that our brains will try to sequitur.

Featured in Genre: Bot