This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
These two “Facebots” (Facebook bots) were created in the last days of 2009 and quickly began to make friends, post images, and make cryptic status updates, commenting on each other’s updates. They started a relationship on January 13, 2010 and got married (that is, changed their relationship status to “married” on Facebook) on March 21, 2010. Ever since they have both been making status updates automatically every hour, (Ariadna every 2 hours) using the algorithm described below:
Debasheesh Parveen is one of the 99 Sacred Names of the Internet. It is also an algorithm:
1. Debasheesh Parveen takes a random news headline from the Al Jazeera feed.
2. The headline is distorted using a text-manipulation algorithm.
3. One of the words of the headline is chosen to search for an image on the Internet.
4. The headline and the image are posted to Debasheesh Parveen’s Facebook profile.
This happens automatically, at regular intervals.
The text manipulation algorithm (linked to in the quote above) is Tisselli’s “Computer Aided Poetry” engine, which allows users to enter a text and replace words with similar randomly selected words. This is most likely the engine behind “Synonymovie,” which generates similar kinds of image and text combinations from the semantic relations embedded in language. Here are two examples of Parveen’s output.
Ariadna Alfil is the same concept, but implemented in Spanish, taking as an initial seed a random headline from La Jornada.
Part of the interest to be found in these weird lines is in attempting to discover the message intended in the original headline, by attempting to retrace the synonyms through contextual readings. Even if you’re not inclined to take on this odd brain teaser, there is pleasure in the lines created: a poetry that arises out of différance— the endless deferment of meaning because of the differences in the meanings of words.
These bots, like the doll and Wonder Woman costume in their respective icons, are artificial constructs dressed in Facebook person-hood. They make “friends,” “like” pages, comment on each other’s entries, and are even “married.” They are also gendered, ethnic bots: Debasheesh is Iranian, and Ariadna is Mexican— and their voice is informed by news media from their respective parts of the world.
Are these our first postcolonial bots?
Featured in Genre: Bot