The Quick Brown Fox Subtweets The Lazy Dog

Monday, July 07, 2014 - 10:41 AM

(Shawn Campbell)

Pangrams! Sentences that use every letter of the alphabet! You can definitely live without them (unless you happen to be a typographer), but why would you want to? Fortunately, you don’t have to live without them anymore, at least on Twitter.

The slow march towards Twitter bots playing every linguistic game possible continues with PangramTweets. American Dialect Society President Jesse Sheidlower designed PangramTweets to scours Twitter’s sample feed (a small chunk of the whole network) for Pangrams and retweets them as it finds them.  

Most of the tweets are deliberate attempts to get the bot to find them by tweeting directly at it. Others, despite Sheidlower’s best efforts to teach the bot to avoid them, are people who’ve gone to town on their keyboards out of anger or excitement. Most are in English, because Sheidlower programmed the bot to avoid non-English tweets, although a few slipped through early on.

At this point there are just shy of 260 retweets. There are several promotional tweets about concerts, and a whole bunch of tweets about a number of sports, up to and including, perhaps unsurprisingly, quidditch.  

Sheidlower has no expectations that the pangrams that bot finds will capture the imaginations of its followers, he writes, “You may find the results interesting, or dull. I make no judgment on this.” But for my part, I enjoy it. Amongst the jetsam of gibberish keyboard mashing and advertisements there are little bits of poetry, inadvertent or otherwise. And what more can you hope for from a twitter bot than that?

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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