It’s hard to explain my daughter’s art, except that she’s good at it

Sometime yesterday afternoon, my “grandbotchild” @thinkpiecebot passed a milestone: my daughter Nora Reed’s digital art now has more Twitter followers than I do.

The bot is a thousand lines of code that is somehow able to speak like a relatively intelligible human, if by “relatively intelligible human” you mean an underthinking op ed pundit being paid too much to spout shallow ideas. Here’s Nora explaining the thing to Sean Miller at PopMatters:

My fascination with bots and generators is pretty simple, though: they make me laugh. I can make a bot that tickles my fancy, press a button, and have pretty good jokes come out the other side. There are other reasons, too—I’ve always loved playing with language and things like headlines and advertisements can use such repetitive phrasings that it’s really easy to imitate them or introduce absurdity or the surreal. There’s also a fair amount of frustration in the bots too, though—I’m obviously pretty annoyed with thinkpieces in general and making fun of them makes it easier to deal with that.

It’s mostly the joke thing, though.


The craft here is to provide both believable basic language elements and a grammatical structure in the code from which emerge things that are surprising but don’t have the clunk of a machine language failing some humorous Twitter version of the Turing test. Nora’s gotten really good at that.

For my benefit, she’s added some “drought” meme language, which has created some fun cross-pollination:

TPB, as we call our little grandbotchild, has had a bit of a run of celebrity of late. Aaron Sankin did a fun piece in the Daily Dot and then turned the bot into an assignment editor for the staff, with uneven but sometimes hilarious results. Bustle did a piece, and some others I can’t put my fingers on. In addition to being wonderful, TPB touches the sort of Internetty nerve that Internetty writers love to write about.

Nora had this to say earlier today:

Yes, dear, it is.

You can support Nora Reed’s art here:


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