Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Collaborate or die: A new initiative wants to make it easier for national and local outlets to work together
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 3, 2014, 12:38 p.m.
LINK: docs.google.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   March 3, 2014

I am newly returned from Baltimore and the NICAR conference, where one of the most laugh-out-loud sessions of the weekend involved Brian Abelson, Joe Kokenge and Abraham Epton talking about how and why to build Twitter bots. Stephen Suen, of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies writing program, has a helpful blog post about the conversation.

Kokenge laid out the basics of making a bot. Epton talked about his ILCampaignCash, a Chicago Tribune product that tracks and tweets campaign donations. Abelson offered a long list of bots both humorous (like @FloridaMan or @Haikugrams) and practical (like @TreasuryIO or @YourRepsOnGuns) that suggested the breadth of possibility when it comes to bots. There are also, of course, challenges:

Brian says the logic behind the Twitter bot is strict rather than greedy. He also points to issues faced with Times Haiku. “The challenge is, how are we not going to make a haiku of the Syrian civil war, how are we not going to make a haiku of something that’s serious… that’s why it’s easier to do some of these funny artistic ones rather than something you can put the name of a newsroom on.”

Once again, rate limiting is brought up — Abraham says you can write the logic of your bot to avoid having your account get deleted. “Use common sense,” he says. The more you avoid behaviors that make your bot seem like a spam bot, the safer your account will be. Joe and Brian agree — the rate limit is high enough that you can get away with a tweet every 5 minutes without hitting it.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Collaborate or die: A new initiative wants to make it easier for national and local outlets to work together
“Where you find resistance to collaboration is where you’re finding news enterprises hastening their own demise.”
How NPR factchecked the first presidential debate in realtime, on top of a live transcript
More than 6 million users checked out the factcheck, sending record traffic (especially on mobile) to the site.
Hot Pod: Will the next wave of audio advertising make podcasts sound like (yuck) commercial radio?
Plus: Panoply expands to London, Midroll makes a bigger bet on live events, and Bloomberg finds audio success.