Everyone Should is a book and Twitter bot. Every hour, the bot finds the most recent tweet beginning with the words “everyone should” and retweets it. These messages are collected in the bot’s timeline, and in a large book designed in the form of a diary. The resulting selection of personal and collective moments that are otherwise lost in the flood presents an alternative model of online attention based on a common pattern of language—it is both archive and accumulation.
Everyone Should was shown and sold at Rhizome's Internet Yami-Ichi at the NADA art fair.
Photo by Graham Bessellieu
I created Everyone Should bot while studying political bots in my Social Dynamics of the Internet course at Oxford Internet Institute. I had been thinking about identity, individuality, and self-representation online—how a social media is a shrine to the self, and comprises a collection of media that constructs your online identity. The phrase "everyone should" is interesting to me because when I searched it on Twitter, I found that it was a recurring pattern of language online. The phrase as a pattern gets at something fundamental about a tweet. Posting something online for circulation into other peoples' timelines comes with an implication that what you post is so interesting that it must be read; whether or not the actual words "everyone should" are used, it is built in to the form of a tweet.
I also see Everyone Should as a counter-provocation to the way content is commoditized online in the attention economy. Twitter and other social media platforms are premised on notions of trending and virality, with the implication that if something doesn't have a lot of engagement or retweets, it doesn't exist or isn't important. Everyone Should breaks up my timeline sometimes with bits of mundanity, sometimes with provocative political messages, but always with the unexpected.
Living with the bot over time has surfaced interesting experiences and observations. Bots as a medium can produce meaning in funny and beautiful ways, like through this coincidentally ironic retweet:
and this interrogation of the bot's algorithmic nature:
By incorporating the bot into my regular social media consumption, I've seen unexpected humor and tiny coincidences; I've seen patterns emerge due to current events, and I've seen it interact with other bots to interesting effect. It's why the book makes formal reference to the structure of a diary; the retweets are a demarcation of time that color the experience of the everyday. It also suggests to me an open question: how do people coexist with non-malicious bots?