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Twitter API returning results that do not respect arrow of time.
May 29, 2013 5:37 AM   Subscribe

It started as an afternoon hacking project with your Twitter API. I called it @timebot. I set it running just over a year ago.
posted by xqwzts (60 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this during the weekend on Hacker News. I didn't understand it.
posted by gertzedek at 5:41 AM on May 29, 2013


For now, I'm keeping things quiet.

Posting it in a bug tracker is a good way to do this.

No, seriously.
posted by DU at 5:45 AM on May 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


Very clever. I liked this.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:48 AM on May 29, 2013


Hee!
posted by dejah420 at 5:49 AM on May 29, 2013


Guys, I think someone just figured out @horse_ebooks
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:49 AM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


See, if I'm Justin Bieber (I'm not) right now I'm saying "Siri, remind me on November 12, 2015 at 3:45 to apologize over Twitter."
posted by bondcliff at 5:50 AM on May 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


God I hope he also created a failsafe bot.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:50 AM on May 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Well done!
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:51 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed it - the idea of doing it as a bug report sorta hearkens back to Bram Stoker doing his novel in letter form.
posted by Mooski at 5:53 AM on May 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Man, the stuff coming out of #romneydeathrally a while back must have been somewhat alarming to him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:55 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was too clever. I was completely fooled by the page and I stupidly thought it was some attempt to provoke a distributed spam of Twitter's feedback system.

Now if you'll excuse me, a totally legit looking window just popped up in my browser asking me to install an "urgent needed security update".
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:01 AM on May 29, 2013


Oh lord this is not helping after the nightmare I had a few nights ago. In the dream your photos on instagram could pick up links and comments from the future--you would get to see them in the present. Which was cool and all until my photos started getting comments from four or five years in the future along the lines of "miss you bro" and "such a tragedy."

I woke up pretty soon after that but it's been bugging me since.
posted by thecaddy at 6:02 AM on May 29, 2013 [50 favorites]


What a great little piece.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:03 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Smells like a viral advert for an upcoming tv series.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:04 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't understand it.

Basically, he is getting retweets from the future and views this as a problem, so he's reporting it. It's sort of geek Douglas Adams meets Bram Stoker's epistolary form of writing (as Mooski notes above). View it as something you'd read on McSweeney's or some other high brow humor site.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:07 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will say that I've yet to see any tweets with a date later than January 12, 2017.

I don't know why.


That was a very nice touch.
posted by mhoye at 6:10 AM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]




Lovely and interesting. Particularly great to me was that it could be edited by me, that the UK-spelling on some words had the dotted red line, so it felt exactly right. I love short fiction framed in modern communication ways like this, and this was a really successful example.
posted by Mizu at 6:11 AM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah: mischievous, mysterious robots. We've got one of those here: I wonder what it's got in store for us. Knowing rollbot, it's probably sandwiches. Or MDMA.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:14 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked the idea, but I felt it wasn't carried out very well.
posted by escabeche at 6:19 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


House of Tweets.
posted by hydatius at 6:21 AM on May 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


ah, I see someone's leaked the first chapter of R.L. Stine's Retweet or Die.
posted by threeants at 6:32 AM on May 29, 2013


James thinks it's because all our tweets are being stored by the Library of Congress. He says the information density of that place warps space and time. I say he's crazy.


And I say that's a great little send-up to Terry Pratchett.
posted by solotoro at 6:36 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


cjorgensen: "View it as something you'd read on McSweeney's or some other high brow humor site."

It makes sense now. I think the fact that I read it at Hacker News threw me completely off (and I not normally bad at picking these things up) - I was expecting it to be an actual technical thing.
posted by gertzedek at 6:45 AM on May 29, 2013


Yeah, I went into it thinking "why is a Twitter bug regarding out-of-order tweets on the blue?"

On a related note, Facebook's new comment system can burn in hell.
posted by ymgve at 6:53 AM on May 29, 2013


I approached it as a polished form of creepypasta (which are also a form of epistolary scary story, except the medium is not letters but forums).
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ooh, clever. I don't often enjoy fiction wrapped in [insert current popular technology here], but that was fun to read.
posted by Ravneson at 7:12 AM on May 29, 2013


It's "The Hundred Light-Year Twitterbot"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 AM on May 29, 2013


I love this piece. The presentation via Twitter's bug report system really set the tone that made this piece super successful. As a coder, I was brought along with his narrative of searching for the bug, making the reveal ever so more delicious. Very creative!
posted by Meagan at 7:18 AM on May 29, 2013


I will say that I've yet to see any tweets with a date later than January 12, 2017.

I don't know why.

That was a very nice touch.


I have to admit I'm a bit puzzled by the day. Is it meaningful? My first thought was Inauguration but that's apparently January 20, 2017.

I personally would have made the cutoff January 19, 2038.
posted by kmz at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A neat little piece of satire.

However, I didn't get the 12 January 2017 joke either.
posted by Jehan at 7:33 AM on May 29, 2013


It's not a joke citizen. Beware.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:34 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The date is great because it doesn't have significance. That leaves you to question the reason that there are no more tweets. API change? Twitter shuts down? Internet gives way to Quantum-Internet structure? Nuclear war? Author finally finds and fixes bug? Who knows? It gives you a chance to exercise your brain instead of making a pop culture reference.
posted by komara at 7:37 AM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
posted by plinth at 7:38 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yep, that tickled my brain. It's Primer-ish and Matrix-y.
posted by guy72277 at 7:38 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think the date is meaningful in particular. It's there to add a vaguely sinister note to the story: the idea that there's a date after which the tweets all stop, and that it's not terribly far from now. I mean, for all I know, it's a date that's significant to the writer, but I don't believe it's intended to carry any meaning for the reader.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:40 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It gives you a chance to exercise your brain instead of making a pop culture reference.
That makes sense. But I'm so out of touch with pop culture that I imagine everything must be a reference to it.
posted by Jehan at 7:40 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, I know that on November 12 2015 at 3:45:41, @justinbieber is going to say "I'm so, so, sorry."
This one seems fairly straightforward. He's a time lord.
posted by schmod at 7:43 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I loved this. But I also love creepypast and House of Leaves.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:43 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


That leaves you to question the reason that there are no more tweets. API change? Twitter shuts down? Internet gives way to Quantum-Internet structure? Nuclear war? Author finally finds and fixes bug? Who knows? It gives you a chance to exercise your brain instead of making a pop culture reference.

Apocalypse of some kind is the rather obvious implication. And neither of the dates I mentioned are pop cultural...
posted by kmz at 7:59 AM on May 29, 2013


Okay, fine, not "pop cultural" but "dates that, when Googled (if you're not already in the know), give reference to obvious events."
posted by komara at 8:32 AM on May 29, 2013


Reminded me of Wikihistory.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:40 AM on May 29, 2013


Love epistolary fiction, especially with modern media. Very well done. +1.

I will say that I've yet to see any tweets with a date later than January 12, 2017.

Don't worry. That just means that Yahoo buys Twitter in July 2016.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:54 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


You really think Yahoo will still be around in 2016?
posted by xqwzts at 9:03 AM on May 29, 2013


Well, AOL is around in 2013, so ...
posted by uncleozzy at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a Microsoft brand-experience, perhaps.
posted by bonehead at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2013


This was kind of a cute story, but I think it's a double; someone posted it to mefi a couple years ago, back on May 29, 2013.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:19 AM on May 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


You really think Yahoo will still be around in 2016?

I sure hope so.
posted by davejay at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2013


> I'm so out of touch with pop culture that I imagine everything must be a reference to it.

and thus, Jehan's Law was established.
posted by morganw at 10:28 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Obviously an inside-cronjob.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:06 AM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ok, I'm creeped out now. Time to go walk the dog.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:14 AM on May 29, 2013


If there's not already a movie being planned to release on, or be about, that date... there should be.
posted by one4themoment at 11:55 AM on May 29, 2013


Ooh, this was a charming little thing. Glad I took a minute to read it.
posted by redsparkler at 12:21 PM on May 29, 2013


That was awesome...now back to the regularly scheduled grind...
posted by quinoa at 1:21 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


No doubt he was using twitter's Futures library.
posted by whir at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2013


Stanislaw Lem in his short story "137 seconds" seriously underestimated the capabilities of networked computers.
posted by hat_eater at 2:40 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: ...people are sarcastic, or making a parody or just engaged in wishful thinking.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2013


Classic! Loved the vaguely sinister ending. Singularity?
posted by MoTLD at 5:46 PM on May 29, 2013


Whoa. I dreamed last night about time travel.
posted by limeonaire at 1:33 PM on May 31, 2013


From the same author: The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations
posted by homunculus at 8:34 PM on June 3, 2013


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