“@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?

This is Twitter performance writing, in which fiction blends into reality so casually, that it is able to make for compelling narratives. This is a story several years in the making, going back over two years to the series of tweets quoted below.


On January 30, 2013, as he headed back home from an all day Department retreat, the got stuck on Dulles airport due to some kind of an emergency, re-encountering the mysterious figure from March 5, 2010. On January 31, 2013 his @samplereality account went 404. Gone.

But art abhors a vacuum. And in the absence of this vocal academic— whose idiosyncratic voice reached thousands of followers every day— something emerged to continue telling his story. Or a story. Or is it poetic riffing on his own improvisational self-fashioning?

Tomorrow, I will examine the proliferation of accounts based on Mark Sample and discuss some of the strategies at play here.