xtranormal vaporwave microsoft voice define angst young thug naked lunch theres shit everywhere: Talking to Theo Thimo & Patrick Steadman about @theo_search

doing the teeth! by theothimo

One rainy summer day, we saw in our Twitter feed a tweet by an account called @theo_search with a pic of writer Theo Thimo as its avatar.  While we already followed Theo’s main feed, @theoooeooo, this auxiliary feed came as a mysterious surprise.

It appeared as though Theo, in @theo_search, was recording each of his Internet searches and tweeting them publicly. While some of us seek to conceal our search history, Theo was doing exactly the opposite: laying his curiosities bare for anyone who cared to follow.

We wondered if he was being fully truthful and including each and every search. Was this an unedited look at his Internet life? Was it curated? And why were there no searches for porn?

So we took to Facebook messenger and asked Theo a few questions about this feed.

NEWHIVE: is theo_search a bot that updates automatically or do you do it manually?

THEO: hey :) its a bot, sometimes the code gets funky but haven’t bothered my friend, Patrick Steadman, to update it extensively yet

NEWHIVE: omg I think I wld be scared to have ppl see my searches unedited. yours seem very, like, good.

THEO: wow I’m glad u like it lol no one rly cared when I put it out, it’s a sleeper hit ^^. it’s only caused awkward things rarely

NEWHIVE: it’s the sleeper hit of the summer. your searches are, like, very  artistic integrity-y. i google things like ‘calories large yam’

THEO: loll that’s awesome! yes mine tend to be linguistic or art. mostly ppl joke about how bad I seem at knowing what words are. also the twitter is probably most exciting for my friends who interact w me and see how these searches arise in my day to day life or what topics they lead to in our convos.

NEWHIVE: it’s cool as an acquaintance/voyeur too. like I’ve always wanted to be a supermarket cashier to see what individuals really eat. this is sort of like that. do you ever change your google habits or not google something because u kno ppl will see?

THEO: nope I hardly think about it now altho I think at first it made me hesitate. sometimes Google won’t load bc of my internet, something about privacy or security so I have to use bing sometimes lol.


THEO: it makes me rly upset now lol

NEWHIVE: u can search for all the shameful shit on bing

THEO: its so embarrassing how little shameful stuff I look up lol

NEWHIVE: it’s like the diff between listening to stuff publicly and privately of spotify. it’s actually amazing how little shameful stuff there is in your searches. tho it’s cool when i see you’ve googled something because it’s a recent ‘literary scandal’ or ‘art scandal’ and it’s a scandal I’ve recently googled too

THEO: oh lol yes that’s v funny. I like when I Google a friends name and they have alerts so they retweet me. brad listi recently retweeted me twice, also like may waver, so many ppl, I feel bad for the ppl who don’t have alerts who don’t know I’ve googled them seems even more creepy lol

NEWHIVE: yes! it was may waver! I found through may waver and looked through it and then when listi rt’ed I looked through again and followed that time

THEO: I should search more ppls names lol

NEWHIVE: u will blow up. who built the bot? was it custom built for you?

THEO: I tried getting someone on fiverr to make it for me originally which would have been awesome digital labor post capitalist of me but finally got my friend patrick steadman to make it for me

NEWHIVE: oh cool so you came up with the idea and ‘commissioned’ it

THEO: yes I promised him 20 dollars that I haven’t paid him

NEWHIVE: hahahaha

THEO: yeah no this was like a month long or two effort lol

NEWHIVE: maybe the bot will blow up and you can monetize the bot and pay him back. like corporations will pay you to search them. White Castle b like ‘theo! search us!’ and u can reimburse Patrick

THEO: Jesus the dream, I’ve often wondered if I got enough followers if I could just get sponsored by chipotle and go to chipotle every day and tweet about being at chipotle

NEWHIVE: I wonder if it wld ruin chipotle to have eating chipotle be your job. so how did u come up w the idea / what made u decide to do it?

THEO: I think it was around when Google had just made ur history something u could download into an easy to read .txt file, I don’t think the code makes use of that but everyone showed a general disinterest of viewing large .txt of search entries, I thought if the searches could be incorporated in ppl’s feeds like any other content ppl would find it interesting, I love the idea of seamless content generation that just comes about from doing things in ur day to day life, sharing details about urself without putting effort or thought or maybe even social awareness, or at least that’s the ideal maybe

NEWHIVE: so can anyone have a bot or is it theo specific

THEO: no its not theo specific. patrick steadman, who programmed it has been thinking of making this something u can sign up for

We then got in touch with Patrick Steadman, the Brooklyn based writer and programmer who built the bot.

NEWHIVE: Hi Patrick, we’re interviewing Theo about his search bot and we wanted to see if there’s anything you wanted to say about the bot…how it was built, etc.

PATRICK: building it was pretty interesting and tricky. Google makes it really hard to programmatically access your search history, there’s no API for it. You can only download the whole thing to an archive on Google drive. I thought it was going to be easy so I said I’d do it for $20. But I ended up having to create a virtual machine that ran a browser automation framework to manually login and scrape the data

NEWHIVE: so what should the real cost be?

PATRICK: Based on us avg software engineering hourly cost of $31 * 20hrs… $620

NEWHIVE: is there is a place that people can go to sign up to get their own bot?

PATRICK: The code is on github. I’ve been thinking of trying to make a way to let other people easily do browser automation. Right now, I need plaintext passwords to make it work. Like I have theo’s plaintext gmail password, he has to trust me with it. To make it usable to others, I’d need to create a system that makes browser automation easy. We’ve been building a website that sets up bots, its in (rough) alpha at http://mrbots.net. If I figure out a way to integrate Google search into it, it’d go there.