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An annotated guide to @Horse_ebooks
Writer Jack Stuef is tracking down the source material for the beloved Twitter spam bot, one tweet at a time.
Throughout its strange existence, beloved Twitter spambot @horse_ebooks has amassed thousands of faithful followers, endured accusations of its authenticity, and spawned everything from themed collections to comic renderings of its tweets. Despite the controversy, @horse_ebooks continues to tweet obscure passages from across the Web—prompting RTs, @replies, and attempts at further analysis.
Now, one man has decided to delve deeper into @horse_ebooks than anyone ever before. Today, writer Jack Stuef launched The Annotated @Horse_ebooks, a Tumblr dedicated to dissecting the account tweet-by-tweet.
“The purpose of this blog is to provide sourcing for texts quoted by @Horse_ebooks and, whenever possible, provide context,” Steuf wrote in blog’s first entry. “So, yes, I’m sort of ruining it.”
“Ruining it” is something @horse_ebooks fans have been accusing writers and journalists of for some time now. When Gawker writer Adrian Chen offered $50 for someone to go to @horse_ebooks creator Alexei Kouznetsov’s address, readers fought back, accusing Chen of “ruining” the spambot.
While Stuef might, in his own words, be “ruining it,” his The Annotated @Horse_ebooks is already taking Horse’s tweets to previously unknown places. An entry dissecting a tweet reading “Dalton pacing up and down; another man enters; men shake” sources the line to a “screenplay (or “photoplay”) from a 1914 “treatise” on screenwriting called “The Photoplay,” written by one Henry Albert Phillips. Dalton is a character that comes up over and over again in Horse’s tweets—a mysterious occurrence that the spambot’s seemingly “random” tweets can’t explain.
Will contextual readings engage or disgust fans of @Horse_ebooks? At this point, can any man (or woman) truly spoil the magic of the spambot?
Perhaps only Dalton knows.
Photo via The Annotated @Horse_ebooks
Lindsey Weber is a writer and editor who's worked for Flipboard, Mel Magazine, Slate, Eater, Wirecutter, Billboard, and more. She currently hosts a VR talk show called Conundrums.