Cybersecurity / Social media

An interview with a poet who made a Pokémon Twitter bot

“People are forced to be at their desks when they want to be exploring the world and discovering new pokemon and this bot is the least I can do for them,” says creator Todd Anderson.

A wild Nidoran (male) appeared in Izhevsk, Russia, according to this Twitter bot, at least. (Photo via Twitter)

You may have seen a lot of Pokémon on Twitter recently. Todd Anderson has, too, and he loves it and he wants more of it.
Anderson is a poet, primarily, but his work crosses borders with technology. Yesterday he created Pokemon Go Bot, a Twitter bot that places a random Pokémon in a random street in the world and takes a screenshot, which it posts to Twitter. We caught up with Anderson, who is running the Wordhack Biennial at Babycastles this month (featuring a lot of people who’ve been written about in Technical.ly Brooklyn) about the bot.

Technical.ly Brooklyn: OK, so why did you make this?
Todd Anderson: Since it was released, I’ve been seeing a lot of Pokemon Go screenshots on social media, either of pokemon appearing in funny places or jokes of x pokemon appeared in y place and one thing bots are really good at is generating a certain kind of joke or media that is popular at the moment in a series of endless variations.
Also, “for fun” was a big reason. It was a way of scratching the pokemon go itch while still doing a coding project. People are forced to be at their desks when they want to be exploring the world and discovering new pokemon and this bot is the least I can do for them.

TB: How does it work?
TA: I have a big list of 275 or so major international cities and their GPS coordinates. It picks a city from the list then picks a random GPS point in that city, then looks on Google Streetview for an image using the streetview static image api (it keeps trying points until it finds a street view image) then it picks a random pokemon image from a folder and centers it and overlays it on the streetview image with python image processing (the pokemon images all have transparent backgrounds) then it uploads the image to Twitter and tweets out “A wild **pokemon name** appeared in **city name** #PokemonGo.
I don’t know if you play or not, but there is this little neurochemical rush you get from seeing a sweet pokemon on top of real life even if you know it’s not real.


Series: Brooklyn

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Technically Media