The bored, polite bot

A while ago I created this bot that fetches a work from the Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design Department of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and posts it to a website and to twitter, three times a day. I like this pace. It’s not an overload. But sometimes it’s not enough. What if I want a new image right now. The easy option would be to surf to the Cooper Hewitt site and add a query into the search field. The not so easy option would be to create a twitter bot that posts an image of a thing if you ask it to. Politely.

So imagine that you’re bored and you want to see an image of a shark. Now you can ask @onethingplease to send you a shark, please. Be sure to include the word ‘please’. It’s a sensitive bot that will not answer you without it. And right so. The internet can use some manners. But if you do ask it politely it will do its best to find an image of a shark — or whatever you ask it — in the Cooper Hewitt collection. And after a few minutes of searching it will probably send it to you. Or well. Probably not. It is not that accurate. But the results are definitely more surprising than all those fancy “intelligent” image search algorithms we’re used to.

A few of you will try it out. And ask it to send you an image of beer. Or wine. Or a book. Or a computer. Or a lion. Or an alien. But most of the time this bot will be idling. In order to prevent it from getting too bored I gave it the power to update its profile pictures if nobody has asked it anything in the last 30 minutes. This means it will probably do this at least 40 times a day. And nobody will notice. Which makes you wonder. If a bot updated its profile pictures and no human saw it, did it actually happen?