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[Comments] (2) Junk Mail, Yorebooks, Podcast Roulette: I've come back to working on botfriend as a break from writing, and I've got some new stuff to show you. It's all based around code I put in olipy for dealing with the Internet Archive.

The Archive has so much stuff that if you're not looking for something specific, random selection is the best way to experience it. So I've made it really easy to pick a random item from an IA collection, and (if it's a textual collection) pick any page from that item and get it as an image.

Here's Junk Mail Bot, which provides a random-sample view of this collection. Just look at this cool plotter! Every item has a link to the IA web viewer so you can see it in context.

Yorebooks is the exact same bot but for the collection of yearbooks. I'm partial to this jaunty slice of 1940s writing from the Illinois State Normal university.

These bots were inspired by Rob Manuel's excellent YORE COMPUTER, and it's easy to make your own bots of this sort. In botfriend, a "random page from an Internet Archive collection" bot fits comfortably in fifty lines of code.

But maybe my cool Mastodon bots don't impress you. You miss the days when I would put new bots on Twitter, and Twitter would randomly suspend them. Actually maybe it wasn't random; maybe my bots insulted a Nazi or something. Anyway, I'm not coming back to Twitter but I can offer a compromise: how about a podcast?

The Internet Archive has over 150,000 archived episodes of podcasts, and people almost never listen to old episodes. Again, the "random sample" technique is appropriate here.

So I created Podcast Roulette, which picks a random episode of a random podcast every day and puts it into an RSS feed, creating a fun meta-podcast. In a doubly-meta twist, a lot of podcast episodes focus on one specific mostly-forgotten instantiation of something old, like Episode 384 of the Superman Fan Podcast, which covers a single issue of Action Comics.

I've been putting the sampled podcasts on my MP3 player and although I haven't yet found one that I want to put into heavy rotation, it gives me a feeling I haven't had in a while, the feeling of moving across the radio dial. Update: After a few more days, I realize that this also grants the thrill of eavesdropping.

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Comments:

Posted by Brendan at Sun Nov 18 2018 20:15

Podcast Roulette is such a great idea that the thought of subscribing fills me with dread.

Posted by Fafner at Mon Nov 19 2018 13:53

Genius. I just subscribed.


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