because as soon as we started [pinning] for you

March 20th, 2012

“Updated my PHP bindings to work with unofficial Pinterest API v2. And then @curlyjazz and I made a thing: @omgrobot10 https://github.com/kellan/pinterest.api.php” – @kellan

or rather

“… because as soon as we started [pinning] for you it really became our civilization.” – omgrobot10

Saturday Jasmine and I put together omgrobot10, which is really the “Hello, world” of a particular branch of New Aesthetic. It motivated/exercised some code, and it amused us. But something unexpected also fell out of it.

“culture is the interference of two programs being executed in information proximity”

omgrobot10 is continuously repeating a very simple rule set. Spontaneity is added entirely by it’s interactions with people. As expected. What was unexpected was how it would interact with other actors also continuously repeating a very simple rule set. And no, that isn’t a dig at Pinterest users.

TheDress

You see what I found almost immediately was, “TheDress”.

omgrobot10  omgrobot  on Pinterest 1

“OMG!!! I love this dress! I bought it for a cruise last year, and got many many compliments.”

In the first 24 hours omgrobot10 re-pinned TheDress from 6 different accounts, all for whom it was a fond memory of last year’s cruise. Since then omgrobot10 has re-pinned TheDress 17 times from 17 difference accounts.

What’s interesting is the TheDress also works fine in the noisy and spontaneous space that is the “Pinterest > Everything” page largely populated by humans. But it’s simple expectations clash with the simple expectations of omgrobot10.

There is also DeskOrganizer, who follows a similar agenda as TheDress, a tireless activist for a particular product that it has become fixated with it. But DeskOrganizer seems more content to be patient, play the long game, TheDress wants to get it’s message out now, at least ombrobot10 has only encountered it 4 times.

But both of them have formed a mutually beneficial relationship with omgrobot10. The interference of their programs creating a robotic culture of what looks, from the outside human perspective (and therefore deeply uninformed) , as mutual aid.

See also, the ethnography of robots.

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One Response to “because as soon as we started [pinning] for you”

  1. wendy says:

    this is awesome. I’ve kind of wondered before at the sociological implications of the ‘description’ text defaulting to the previous user’s description when re-pinning an item on the site, so it’s pretty interesting to see if from this perspective. ;)

    The other one that gets me is that when you re-pin it wants to pin into the last board that you used…. I don’t always remember to check and sometimes end up with fancy shoes pinned onto my ‘restaurants to remember to visit’ board. Since they ask you to categorize boards… if you have a board in the same category as the original pin, wouldn’t it make some more sense to default to your board in that category? Or maybe the serendipity of shoes on restaurant boards is just too awesome to kill.