Skip to main content

The New York Times’ non-terrible April Fools’ joke is a bot that turns journalism into poetry

nyt botAmid an onslaught of April Fools’ marketing initiatives that range from silly to insipid to just-stop-it-already-PR-people-we-get-it-you-know-how-to-use-the-Internet, the New York Times released something today that is both funny and genuinely awesome – a haiku bot.

The bot takes lines from stories that make the front page and turns them into haiku (if you forgot about 11th grade English, haiku is a poetry format of three lines, with a five syllables – seven syllables – five syllables configuration, often with an element of juxtaposition in the verbal imagery). On the New York Times Haiku site, short, clipped snippets arranged out of context are occasionally flat but mostly weird and funny. It’s like if @horse_ebooks got sent to an MFA program.

Some of them seem like they could be crafted by a reaching but promising high school English student: Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 4.09.56 PM

While others are funny and very obviously culled from a lifestyle story:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 4.10.26 PMAnd others still are kind of sad and great:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 4.13.10 PM
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Senior software architect at the New York Times Jacob Harris built the bot, but explained that they don’t throw each haiku on the blog – Times employees comb through for the best ones, and they changed the algorithm to take some idiosyncratic vocabulary into account. As Harris notes, “We started with a basic rhyming lexicon, but over time we’ve added syllable counts for words like Rihanna.”

Pro tip: if you ran out of the amount of free articles you can read on the New York Times website a month but you still want to check them out, this bot is an access point – but it probably makes more sense to pay for a subscription instead of scrolling aimlessly through poetry-ified stories. 

 Not everyone is happy about this project … because some people are grumps. For instance, this guy had some harsh words for Harris:

Another chuffed poetry lover told Harris his project wasn’t as good as a Tumblr devoted to making haikus out of newspaper articles. That project, called Hidden Haiku, allows people to turn in submissions by highlighting the parts of the article they find haiku-worthy:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 4.30.22 PM

We think there’s room in the world for both projects.

Kate Knibbs
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kate Knibbs is a writer from Chicago. She is very happy that her borderline-unhealthy Internet habits are rewarded with a…
Stop spending so much money on your laptop
Asus Zenbook 14X OLED front angled view showing display and keyboard.

If you're in the market for a new laptop today, you'll encounter a dizzying array of options ranging in price from a few hundred dollars up to the low five figures. You'll find different build qualities, specifications, display types, and much more, all of which combine to make choosing the best laptop for you a challenge.

It's tempting to get mesmerized by the latest and greatest machines and end up spending a lot more than you need to or should. The thing is, there are legitimate reasons to spend less on a laptop in 2023, and trust me -- it hasn't always been this way.
You probably don't need more power
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Read more
Malicious bots make up 73% of internet traffic, report says
italy agcom pirate anti piracy download bay software keyboard skull music cyber crime

In a concerning revelation by the fraud control platform Arkose Labs, about 73% of internet traffic to websites and apps that was analyzed between January and September 2023 has been attributed to bots engaging in malicious activities. This revelation sparks discussions about the significant drain on valuable resources caused by such nefarious actions.

The third quarter of 2023 witnessed the dominance of five primary categories of bad bot activities, including account takeover, scraping, fake account creation, account management, and in-product abuse. This is similar to the second quarter, with the notable exception of in-product abuse stepping in for card testing.

Read more
Best Apple deals: AirPods, Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook
dell xps 15 vs macbook pro 16 apple ry 14 1200x9999

Apple products are praised for their high quality and interconnectivity, but that quality does come with a price. This is one large reason why we look for great Apple deals to shop, as it sometimes really is worth the wait. To help you out, we've compiled some of our favorite deals on all of the major categories of Apple products. Try these deals first next time you're looking to expand or upgrade your Apple collection.
Best iPad deals

Whether you're wanting to get a standard iPad, an iPad Air, or an iPad Mini, their is a sale on for you at the moment. If, however, one of the iPad Pro models is among the best iPads for you, don't worry too much about holding off. These deals are small, typically taking off around 10% of the price, and are more of a bonus if you already wanted the model rather than an incentive to choose it over something you really wanted. Meanwhile, if you're willing to go refurbished, our larger collection of the best iPad deals has larger deals and you can find an iPad Pro.

Read more