Can the internet be a poet?

Liam Mooney - July 2, 2013

I spend a lot of time thinking about the internet. I ask myself questions about its nature. Can the internet produce art? What does its soul look like or sound like? If it were a person, what kind of poetry would it write?

Considering its unpredictable and chaotic nature, I think the internet has to be a postmodernist poet. One who is inspired by impulse and who writes infinitely and at random. It would pull from the endless human-generated content that makes up its essence, and would read like a collective stream of consciousness for all of humanity.

I find a certain beauty in this idea. So I wanted to find a way to give it form, to give the internet a real voice to write its poetry with.

So my idea was this: pull from Twitter’s deep abyss of missed or forgotten tweets, string them together, and give them form. If all went well, the poetry of the internet would emerge.

I didn’t care if the results were inane or seemingly meaningless. My goal was to source art from randomness, to celebrate the internet’s vast repository of disjointed, human-generated content. In many ways, Twitter already behaves a lot like a collective stream of consciousness.


How we did what we did

There were a few technical challenges to making this idea a reality. First, we had to find access to the immense archive of tweets made public since Twitter’s launch in 2006. It helped a lot that Twitter has a well-established API.

We used node.js as a server side script and HTML and CSS to style.

Another technical challenge would be saving the created poems into the server so people would share their creations.

The styling of the app was suppose to bring the classic typewriter look. I took down all hashtags, at symbols and profile pictures to empower the words and sentences.

So now I invite you to go ahead, try it out. Make a poem, share it, print it off, frame it, whatever. Now go on, get out of here and go make art with the internet.

Go check it out now at poettry.jackpine.co.