(Photos via Twitter)
If you were ever a kid who opened up the encyclopedia and liked to flip through the thin pages and read at random, then this is a project for you.
Stefan Bohacek decided he would catalog every bot on the web.
It’s no small task and he’s far from done. At his site, botwiki.org, you can search bots by category, by platform, or if you’re a dev and you want to learn how to make a bot, you can search by language or the text or data you want to use.
If you dig your nose into the bots, you find some really cool and also some powerful stuff.
Into old stuff and also quickly figuring out the rate of inflation for various items? Menu Bot collects old menus from the New York Public Library archives and tweets them out three times a day.
— Menu Bot (@menubot) March 2, 2016
Want to see a daily example of the space between visual art and little faces that are popular on the internet? @_emo_ji breaks down photos and abstracts them into emoji pixels.
— _EMO_JI (@_emo_ji) February 22, 2016
Want a reminder of the ever-present nature of surveillance in the modern world? @_blackobs is a bot that takes still images from unsecured surveillance cameras all over the world at midnight. It’s made by a German artist/engineer Mattias Planitzer.
Now observing the beach in Los Angeles, CA, USA. pic.twitter.com/olYHD3HUfS
— blackobs (@_blackobs) March 1, 2016
Bay Ridge-based Bohacek decided to create a repository of bots after his own foray into back-end engineering. He was trying to develop a game but couldn’t overcome a problem with it on mobile. So he tried to teach himself more about engineering and went about it by programming a bot.
The bot he made is called Bartleby the Twitter Bot which tweets sentences from Herman Melville’s 1853 short story Bartleby, the Scrivener (from which comes the phrase Brooklyn publisher Melville House turned into their semi-famous “I would prefer not to” tote bags).
@southpawjones I would prefer to be left alone here.
— Bartleby (@bartleby_scrvnr) August 17, 2015
Bohacek said that bots can also be a really good way of learning how to code on the back-end.
“There’s a lot of tutorials and sites where you learn how to be a front-end developer but I don’t think there are as many opportunities for back-end developers,” he said. “If you want to make an ebook Twitter account, you don’t even have to know how to program that much for those, you can find an open source bot and move things around a little bit. I do think bots are a great opportunity for a beginner to learn code.”
If you’re into bots or want to learn how to code through bots, check out the group Bohacek started, #botmakers. He also hosts a monthly bot challenge. This month’s prompt is “TV and Movies.” Every participant has a month to make a bot and submit it. People in the community vote for a week after all are submitted and then a victor is crowned.