These two bots are based on the concept of snowclones, which are a linguistic phenomenon best described by Erin O’Connor in her wonderful blog and resource “The Snowclones Database.”
A snowclone is a particular kind of cliche, popularly originated by Geoff Pullum. The name comes from Dr. Pullum’s much-maligned “If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z”. An easier example might be “X is the new Y.” The short definition of this neologism might be n. fill-in-the-blank headline.
Fill in the blank mnemonic phrases? This is ripe for a bot treatment.
This bot performs a simple operation on a tweet it identifies from the Twitter stream every 5 minutes– it substitutes “in case you missed it” or “ICYMI” (or the hashtag versions of this popular Twitter phrase) with “Never forget” — and tweets the result every 5 minutes. It was inspired by the following tweet by Darius Kazemi:
This witty proposal slices deeply into a key aspect of Twitter’s functionality and the response that emerged from its users. When people follow many Twitter accounts, individual tweets get swept away from their timeline (aka Twitter Stream), so it’s easy to miss an individual tweet. People interested in drawing more attention to a particular announcement therefore need to tweet something multiple times while indicating to those who read it the first time that it’s a repeat message, hence the development of the “in case you missed it” convention and its #ICYMI hashtag. Kazemi’s tweet (linked to in the image above, ICYMI), jokingly recasts narcissistic self-promotion, generally about something slightly more time-sensitive as a tweet, as a something one should hold in memory for the rest of one’s life.
Momberger’s bot capably uses Amit Agarwal’s Google Apps Script code (described here) to implement Kazemi’s proposed algorithm, extending it to include the #ICYMI hashtag, and using capitalization to add even more gravitas to the phrase “Never Forget.” He also had the consideration of deactivating mentions by replacing the @ with a period because “[It’s] Bad juju to @mention with bots” (quoted from line 113 in published source code), perhaps another nod to Kazemi’s influence in the field. The result is a reminder of how utterly transient and forgettable the present is, particularly as represented in a medium that is a constant record of the now. Here’s a taste of immemorability.
Never Forget: There is an entire channel dedicated to horse racing. As in, people riding horses on a dirt track, in a circle.
As a user that occasionally feels anxious about what I might be missing on Twitter, @forgetmebot reassures me that it’s okay.
Coda: Patrick Rodriguez offers a different, equally witty response to this Twitter convention with “InCaseYouMissedIt” (@ICYMI) an account (bot?) that tweets historical events of the day, some memorable, some trivial — all more significant than the latest tech release.
June 1, 1980 – Cable News Network [CNN] begins broadcasting.