The bots are coming
Returning from holiday, I’m forced to come to terms with a dramatic thought. My blog appears to be of greater interest to machines than people. Depressing.
A word of explanation. Each time someone new signs up to receive the blog, my blog host sends me that person’s email address. But ever since I started ‘announcing’ each new post on Facebook, my new followers seem rather odd.
It was (probably) entirely my own fault. Just one of those delicious happenstances. When this blog began getting ‘publicised’ on my Facebook account a few weeks back, there were several posts where the first photo in the post (the one that then appears on Facebook too) was always some rather unpleasant individual. Variously, my blog featured Le Pen family members (brutish anti-semitic father/dangerous daughter/clever ultra-right socially ultra-conservative grand-daughter), Laurent Wauquiez, Steve Bannon.
The pictures were accompanied by appropriately ungenerous remarks. But, perhaps some machines are only trained to recognise pictures. Or maybe the use of the phrase ‘national socialist’ is regarded in certain bot-circles as seriously approbatory? Whatever the reason, I now find that my blog is increasingly attractive to weird addresses.
Too many of my new subscribers have a name which is a near-random jumble of letters. Each one with an address @outlook.com. All seemingly devoid of humanity. I imagine these bots a-talking to each other, bigging up my photos of neo-fascistic individuals. Passing on the address of my blog to other neo-fascistic outlook addresses. Some days no outlook-address-machine signs up … and then up to 4 in a single day.
People, you’re being overtaken. Here’s some of my recent Strange Readers:
The Italian Job
No idea what’s been happening in France while away in wonderful Bologna [thanks for the brilliant suggestion Steve K].
Maybe the city had been cleansed of political graffiti since their March General Election? None anywhere. Except for one consistent message on those wonderful red-brick walls: a vigorous anti-Renzi campaign. Demands all over Bologna for him to be driven out (this was in upmarket Piazza Cavour).
And former Prime Minister Renzi was duly driven from his role in national politics. He and his centre-left Democratic Party suffered a dramatic reduction in Parliamentary seats, down from 350 to 122. The 21st century finale for the perfect Third Way candidate.
This leaves Italy’s political map currently divided between:
- Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant, secessionist League (allies of France’s Front National) in the north
- populist anti-immigration 5 Star Movement in the south, and
- Democratic Party clinging on in the Florence region and ‘red’ Bologna (the walls being just about the last red thing left in Bologna).
A piece in The Economist (possibly behind a paywall) deals with the dangers of using the passive voice: ‘Style manuals, including The Economist‘s, generally deprecate the passive voice. It is longer, for one thing. For another, it is often found in heavy academic and bureaucratic prose. Inexperienced writers tend to over-use it.’ Ouch. Have looked back. Definitely over-used passive. Will try harder.