Tiny Crossword is a daily puzzle game played on Twitter. The bot, created by Matthew Gallant, posts a crossword puzzle consisting of only three words at noon PST. Players of the game can @-respond with their suggested answers. Two hours after posting the clues and puzzle, the bot posts the correct solution and credits the first user to have solved it. Works of creative digital literature like Tiny Crossword explore what generative bots’ true limits are, and how they can establish a following and a positive environment on a social media platform without a human behind it. Twitter’s true purpose is concise messaging, but bots on the platform push these boundaries and explore what can be done within these limits. Recognizing the winner publicly using @-mentions, which are a symbol of admiration and encouragement, fit Twitter’s true intent. Tiny Crossword sources its content form the corpus of Simple English Wikipedia. The informative and plain language used on Wikipedia’s pages make for perfect puzzle words and clues. Twitter bots like Tiny Crossword are a generative and modern form of digital literature that can provide humor, challenge, and creativity to the social media platform. Bots are an aspect of computation that bring the idea of “potential literature” to life. There are several ways text can be arranged differently from authorial intent, and Twitter bots materialize the potential that a piece or collection of literature may have of holding an entirely new value or purpose. Without the partnership of human and computer intelligence, a large portion of creative works in the digital literature space would have never been produced, and humans would not have able to enjoy and learn from projects like Gallant’s Tiny Crossword.
This entry was produced as part of a Digital Literature course taught by Melinda White at the University of New Hampshire, United States, during the Spring term of 2023