New Twitter bot after artist Gerhard Richter

This week I went to the SFMOMA for the first time. It’s great! I spent hours there and felt like I had to rush to see even a fraction of the collection. One of the pieces that really struck me was Gerhard Richter’s massive 1974 painting “256 Colors” (or “256 Farben” in his original German). I took a picture of it there:


He made a few “256 Colors” and a bunch of other color charts, some of which are more explicitly generative—that is, where the colors and their arrangement are left to chance.

Anyway, that sounded like fun, so I’ve put together a small script that creates paintings that look a bit like “256 Colors.” Here’s one that it made:

And naturally, I’ve made a Twitter bot that posts them twice a day: @256farben. Follow along for two daily reminders of the beauty of randomness.

New bot: @i_remember_txt, tweeting Joe Brainard’s “I Remember” (1975)

Joe Brainard’s 1975 book “I Remember” is an incredible work of poetry. The New Yorker called it “his miniaturist memoir-poem,” and Paul Auster’s blurb for the 2001 edition gives a good sense of it:

I Remember is a masterpiece. One by one, the so-called important books of our time will be forgotten, but Joe Brainard’s modest little gem will endure. In simple, forthright, declarative sentences, he charts the map of the human soul and permanently alters the way we look at the world. I Remember is both uproariously funny and deeply moving. It is also one of the few totally original books I have ever read.

Those simple declarative sentences—almost all of which begin with “I remember…”—would have been a shock as a book, but today they have the strange familiarity of status updates from your most nostalgic friend.

So when Avery Trufelman asked if somebody could make a bot that tweeted his “memories,” I jumped at the chance. And the resulting bot, @i_remember_txt, fits in great in between other tweets.

Per usual, the code is online and comments are welcome. It’s pretty straightforward. One thing I did this time which was pretty cool: in the case of memories that were longer than a single tweet, it does threaded “tweetstorms” of up to 4-5 in a row.

All of my Deeplinks blog posts

After five amazing years, I’m done (for now) at EFF. It’s impossible to boil the experience down into numbers, but here’s a big one: 215 Deeplinks blog posts bear my name as author. Here they are, collected in one place for posterity. After the first hundred and the second hundred, I picked out some of my favorites.

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Candidates saying cyber, now with more music

Building on the previous cyber-supercut, here’s a new video that incorporates all the cybers from all of the general election debates, both Presidential and Vice-Presidential, set to music from Mr. Robot.

Rhyming “who phrases” from New York Times obituary headlines

Many obituary headlines follow a standard formula: “Firstname Lastname, Who You Know From That One Thing, Dies at Age.” It’s a tendency I’ve counted on before when extracting names from obituaries for FOIA The Dead, but tonight it also got me thinking about the “who phrase”: the relative clause that condenses a lifetime of context into a handful of words.

I decided to pull out the “who phrases” from about 1000 headlines over the past year, and using pronouncing, arrange them to rhyme (if not yet to meter). It’s poetry.

i found myself thinking of an old soul
who made the dallas cowboys cheerleaders a global brand,
who built and ruled world soccer with firm hand,
whose radio show twanged for decades,
who fought racial barriers in building trades,
who delivered in the clutch,
who wrote adolescent novels with a personal touch,
whose b-1 bomber recast the cold war,
who fictionalized medicine’s absurdity and gore,
who promoted n.w.a. and gangsta rap,
who bridged racial gap,
who chronicled his cancer fight,
who set ‘the wicker man’ cult alight,
who embraced gonzo journalism,
who lost his prime to racism,
who led sicilian mafia clan,
who took aim at iran,
who shaped venture capitalism,
who shifted to optimism,
who wrote of colonialism and racism,
who preached pacifism,
who won a round-the-world race,
who quit in pentagon papers case,
who wrote of madness and isolation,
who helped turn wlir into a radio destination,
who helped pave way for head start,
who elevated blown glass to fine art,
whose furniture evoked sensuality,
who examined puerto rican identity,
who saw literary criticism as art,
who gave the rolling stones their start,
whose bleak fiction won the booker prize,
who shaped foreign ties,
who put the @ sign in email,
who shaped geometries on a bold scale.