Make your own Twitterbot

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Features | 3 comments

UPDATE 5/20/15: The scriptand the method described here may no longer work. If you’re attempting to create a Twitter bot, please use the updated instructions. Twitter boasts about 550 million users with about 100 million of those accessing the site every 24 hours. That’s a lot of people. But when some estimates guess that as many as 20 million of those accounts are fake, we have to conclude that that’s a lot of things besides people. Some of these so-called Twitter bots publish spam, inflate client’s follower counts, or provide helpful advice. Some generate poetry. This past Monday, Stephen Colbert featured a bot, @RealHumanPraise, that mashes up Fox News personalities with positive film reviews published at In this post, I’m going to describe the basic steps in creating a simple randomized Twitter bot using a Google Spreadsheet. You could use this to make something as poetic, interpretive, critical or playful as you like. Here are the steps: Create a Twitter account for your bot Create a Twitter application Customize a spreadsheet Unleash your bot Step 1: Create a Twitter account for your bot Go to and sign up for a new account. (I do not recommend making your primary Twitter account a bot.) Call this new account whatever you want, but note that you’ll need to actually have access to the email account you sign up with, so don’t try to use a fake one. I like to use the GMail trick whereby you can append anything you want after a “+” in the name field, as in: I still messages sent to that address, but their easy to filter out if it becomes a spam magnet. Obviously, use a password you can remember. After hitting the “Sign up for Twitter” button, create your username on the next screen. This must be unique, but you can always change it later. Hit “Create my Account” and check your email for the confirmation link. You can now log in and do whatever you’d like to customize the account: set the background, follow a few people, add a description — normal stuff. Step 2: Create a Twitter application The bot you’re going to end up with needs to have a few secret codes for integrating with your Twitter accounts. This integration is more complex than a username/password pair, so you’ll end up acquiring 2 rather longish strings of characters: a “consumer key,” and a “consumer secret.” Create a new Application To get started, go to . You’ll be prompted to log in again, so make sure you use your new account’s credentials. Enter some basic info in the required fields — Name, Description, Website — like in the...

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Hello world!

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Features | 0 comments

“Hello world!” is a convention in computer programming education whereby a novice program tests the basic input/output flow of a language or environment by directing that program to “say hello.” For example, when learning to program single-line Perl, one might write the following at a terminal command line: $ perl -e 'print "\nHello world!\n"' And then receive the expected output: Hello world! Similarly, the “Hello world” post that comes with a fresh installation of WordPress is a way of confirming that everything is working correctly. By editing your new blog’s “Hello world” post, you initiate the conversation that you hope will happen. It’s ironic, in a way, that the moment your website or your software first says “hello” is also the point at which you start thinking about in terms of what you want it to really say. The shift from code to content is, in other words, also a way of saying goodbye. In the case of this website, the “Hello” you’re reading is also the beginning of the end of the setting up phase for what’s going on here. This blog site, what I’m calling “The Mothership” for DGST 101, will perform several functions for students in this class or elsewhere. Hopefully, this site will be A hub for student blogs A source of information about the day-to-day activities in the class A collection of resources related to Digital Studies The place where students learn about and earn their Achievements for the class So first things first: if you’re a student in this class, you should already be blogging in your domain. Now we need to start getting your content connected in to this hub! I know some of you are planning to post DGST101-related content under a designated category. Others are simply planning on having their primary blog be primarily for this class. Either way is fine, but to keep things consistent and easy, let’s all use the tag “dgst101” (note: not “#dgst101”) when you post things for this class. This way, the RSS feed for your posts will be available at “”. Your first task, then, is to complete the steps to earn the “Own your domain” achievement. If you do this successfully, I’ll end up with a list of DGST 101 feeds that I’ll start aggregating here on the mothership. Let’s get started! [“Hello, world” image by Flickr user oskay. CC BY...

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