Updates on Twitter Bot

You may have noticed from my posts on Twitter that today is Day of DH 2014. To make a long story short, on #DayofDH , digital humanities scholars and teachers create special blogs to document their work for that day and to connect with like-minded scholars. Check it out if you want to learn more about the DH field writ large!

DayofDH logo

It's like a holiday, for digital humanists.

For my blog, I wrote a little bit about our Twitter bot, and particularly shared how I have now set up my computer to tweet an ad automatically every morning. As I mentioned in class yesterday, we now have around 70 followers of the Twitter account, with a couple more adding each day. Exciting times!

Now that our basic idea for the Twitter bot is up and running, perhaps we can also talk about whether there is anything else we want to add to it.

One potential limitation of our current set up is that only those who have followed us are likely to see our tweets (except when one of our followers retweets an ad, which hasn’t really happened yet). But one of our stated goals in the essay was to "surprise" people by showing them an ad in a context where they don’t expect it. We will still accomplish that with our followers, but their "surprise" will be lessened by the fact that they have decided to follow our account. Any ideas about how we can increase the distribution of and audience for the Tweets, particularly among our non-followers?

Another idea that Alyssa brought up in class was to add to our account some regular "on this day" tweets. If you have ideas about how such tweets should be worded, please share them in the comments. There may be some way to word these OTD tweets in a way that solves the problem above. Open to your suggestions!

6 Responses to Updates on Twitter Bot

  1. In order to expand viewership, especially among non-followers, we need followers to retweet so it comes up in the news feeds of their followers. I don’t really know how to go about doing that though, but first steps would be getting more followers as potential disseminators of the information. We could potentially tweet an appeal to our followers to retweet, explaining how their retweets would spread our message and fulfill one of the key purposes of the project.

  2. I like Clare’s idea of making an appeal to retweet. It’s probably one of the simplest ways to quickly expose new followers to our project. We could also tag the tweets with relevant tags, perhaps with historical or location tags (we talked a little bit about this in class). That way, those who follow those tags could come across our tweets and be interested enough to follow.

  3. I also agree with Clare. Encouraging re-tweets would accomplish both our purpose of surprising Twitter users with sobering ads for runaway slaves, and our purpose of gaining more readership to increase the odds of valuable ads being unearthed. As Alyssa mentioned, tweeting with trending hashtags might achieve the same goal. However, that comes at the cost of reducing the number of available characters in the tweet.

  4. Good ideas, and it also occurs to me to appeal to our followers to come to this post and offer their suggestions.

    Re: whether hashtags like #houston or #austin would take up too many characters, it depends on what we want the “on this day” tweets to say. The tweet would have to be some combination of the strings “on this day,” the title of the newspaper, the city the ad was published in, the year of publication, and the permalink. That’s all we will be able to get out of the filename metadata.

    Ideas about wording?

  5. Looking at the question of what hashtags and information to use for the “on this day” tweets, I came up with one possible combination

    #onthisday in (year): runaway ad in #(city) (newspaper name) (permalink)

    I like the idea of incorporating the hashtags into the relevant data in order to save characters while hopefully spreading readership across Twitter through generic tags like “on this day” and the city name, as mentioned before. One potential problem: I don’t know how many characters the permalinks tend to be, or if that would even be an issue.

  6. Clare, links will be shortened by the Twitter api to 22 characters. So that gives us 117 characters to work with if you account for the space between our text and the link.