Terrible news: the internet’s favourite spambot philosopher, @Horse_ebooks, has been revealed to be a person all along. Jacob Bikkila, a Buzzfeed creative strategist, has stepped forward as the man behind the Twitter feed.
Bakkila unveiled himself in an art installation called Bear Stearns Bravo at the FitzRoy Gallery in New York. Intrepid @Horse_ebooks fans would have spotted the unusually prosaic tweets that led to the performance:
Bear Stearns Bravo— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) September 24, 2013
(213) 444 0102— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) September 24, 2013
For years, @Horse_ebooks followers had been delighted by its supposedly accidental wit and wisdom. Ostensibly a spambot spewing out spammy bits of text from ebooks, it’s inspired fanfiction, t-shirts and even a few fan accounts of its own.
According to Bakkila, he has been the sole tweeter from the account after taking ownership from its original owner in 2011 – a time frame that roughly corresponds with an uptick in suspicion that @Horse_ebooks had ceded control to a real human being.
Bakkila says that Bear Stearns Bravo marks the beginning of a new project, and the end of @Horse_ebooks. To further underline the point that @Horse_ebooks has been performance art all along, Bakkila even provided a handy gallery label, ossifying this beautiful, strange e-creature in the annals of #serious #art.
I'm actually kind of angry that @horse_ebooks is human, now.— Stefan Vallentine (@ohstefan) September 24, 2013
I loved believing that @Horse_ebooks was this spambot gone off-the-rails, spewing random text whenever it happened. Nope, 'conceptual art'— Hazel Grace (@Evan_Forman) September 24, 2013
Okay. Now that I've caught up on @horse_ebooks... I'm a little disappointed. Internet, your feelings are very real.— Karen P. Rivera (@karen_p_rivera) September 24, 2013
Obviously, people are heartbroken. There was something beautiful and mysterious about @Horse_ebooks; the idea that a faulty spambot, originally engineered by a Russian to shill ebooks, could intrigue millions and touch the heart with gems such as:
Everything happens so much— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) June 28, 2012
While everyone on Twitter works on their #personalbrand, @Horse_ebooks was a misfiring cannon in all its unprofessional, ungrammatical, nonsensical glory, cherished by its 200,000 fans. Now, instead of wildly inappropriate tweets about opera arias and mysterious figures called Dalton, we get a po-faced explanation about the “work” and “practice” of @Horse_ebooks:
“It was art all along!” is the rallying cry of every single ill-conceived undergrad prank ever invented. Now, we’re faced with the reality that Twitter’s most #meaningful account was actually a marketing guy who's also, like, an artist? – and the worst thing is, all of us were fooled. What does that say about internet culture?
This is why we can’t have nice things.
Follow Zing Tsjeng on Twitter here @misszing