Stealth Mountain: sneak a “peak” at the power of twitter.

The world of language is an interesting place, full of twists and turns, ins and outs, peaks and valleys…

The world of twitter is another interesting place, and when the two collide, things can get  more interesting still.

The anonymous twitter user behind Stealth Mountain has found a place at the intersection of twitter and English grammar and fruitfully mined it for comedy gold.

What he (possibly she) has done is create a twitterbot that does one thing and one thing only: it watches over the twitter stream looking for the misspelled phrase “sneak peak” and, when it detects it, sends this simple message to the source:

I think you mean “sneak peek”

(“twitterbot” is a word I hadn’t heard before, but the meaning is pretty obvious from the context and the word itself: it’s a process written to automate a twitter account.)

With self-deprecation, the author notes

I alert twitter users that they typed sneak peak when they meant sneak peek. I live a sad life.

That’s not sad. What’s sad is that people make this mistake consistently enough that the bot actually has anything to do. As far as I’m concerned, the Stealth Mountain idea is genius, even if it was unintentional. It’s just irritating enough to get attention, and just funny enough for all but the most literal to realize it’s not meant to be taken too seriously. Some of the responses, meanwhile, endeavor to prove that underestimating the common denominator of articulate conversation on the Internet continues to be a mistake.

The idea isn’t entirely novel. Apparently there’s also a bot that corrects “could care less” (it should be “couldn’t care less,” of course). Imagine some of the other possibilities…a bot to correct “enormity” to “enormousness“; one to suggest “I think you meant ‘rite of passage,’ not ‘right of passage‘”; another to tweet “dude, it’s ‘sleight of hand‘ not ‘slight of hand‘.” The list isn’t endless…but I can’t see the end from where I’m sitting.

What we need now is a competent and moderately sarcastic programmer to undertake this monumental task. She (or he) might be at it for months in her spare time, writing and releasing new twitterbots into the wild every few hours. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Wait just a minute! Maybe it does!

I’m no programmer, so I can’t entirely decipher the sample code here, but the idea behind Grammer_man takes Stealth Mountain to a whole new level. A twitterbot that can randomly correct any misspelling from the list of common misspellings on Wikipedia?

Good lord, the gloves are off
(Don’t look at that link unless you’re not easily offended by outrageous stupidity. Really, I mean it! Many of the responses are so outrageously stupid they could depress you, if you stop to think that actual thinking human beings wrote them. The best way to cope might be to imagine that the responses are also from twitterbots, turning the entire feed into a piece of semi-robotic performance art.)

Thanks to Jeremiah Daly for putting me on to this one. Here’s the original reference, courtesy of Slate.
And “semi-robotic performance art,” as far as I can tell, is a unique string never before seen on the web.


About thebettereditor

Chris holds a BA degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in writing from the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast). He has worked extensively with professional and semi-professional writers and enthusiastic amateurs for about 20 years. He has several years experience in scientific publishing, but has also worked in information technology, insurance, health care, and education (he taught writing at the university level for a number of years). Since 2011, he's also specialized in helping small business meet their writing and editing needs on a budget.
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One Response to Stealth Mountain: sneak a “peak” at the power of twitter.

  1. Shame on you, Viacom! How many hundreds of thousands of people did you send this to?
    (They spelled it correctly in the text of the email, but botched it in the subject line.)

    From: “Universal Orlando Resort”
    Date: Jan 26, 2012 8:11:57 PM
    Subject: See a Sneak Peak of the Excitement Coming This Year!
    To: xxxxxx

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