Duodecim

Twitter is a beautiful thing, and this is why.

There is an account called the Tweeter Rater (@TweeterRater), who about a year ago set itself the task of reviewing tweets from random users. It would offer a short comment, and then a rating out of five stars. Or, as they put it on their bio:

“Tweeter Rater synthesizes 12 critical tweet metrics to provide metatweet analytics and constellation-based Tweetscores topped with a piquant peach chutney.”

Some of these ratings were kind.

Some less so.

Many were pithy.

And tweets from all around the globe were chosen to be assessed.

You get the idea, it’s a novelty account. It was a lot of fun for the first six months or so. Sometimes they’d ask for submissions:

And then

it got

weird.

The Tweeter Rater seemed to shut down.

Nobody knew what was happening, or why.

But people were kind of freaked out, not least Keely Bea Keene.

I’m going to briefly summarise the next six months for you, but you can actually read the entire archive of tweets telling the TR’s story at www.tweeterrater.tumblr.com. It’s gripping stuff, even when not told bit-by-bit in sequence as it was originally, and the anonymous author (many originally thought the account might have been hacked, but it later appeared that this had been the plan all along) has a superbly frantic style and retells – through the perspective of ‘Keely’ – the horrific events leading up to her fate. However, beware – spoilers abound below, so if you want to read it skip over the next few paragraphs until the “spoilers end here” sign.

Keely, it is revealed, was kidnapped and taken to a room where she (along with two others she met there, Maryam and Will) was forced to serve a machine known only as the Tweeter Rater. Their unknown captors force them to help run the machine, teaching it how to understand and digest tweets to be rated by the TR all seemingly in an attempt to find the ultimate goal – a tweet supreme. With time running out, they uncover that their roles may be even more monumental that they’d previously thought. They work out that they were all approached by a man known, variably to each, as Henri, Henry Blank, or Hank. The same man who offered them all a kind of job opportunity, each in a different way, but all asking the same strange questions:

to bring them here taking them here to find the Tweet Supreme.

So loads of other stuff happened over a six-month period of storytelling, and then they all died – at least, Will and Maryam did, and it’s implied pretty heavily that Keely, the narrator of the story, does too in an attempt to kill the TR.

SPOILERS END HERE.

An ultimately unsuccessful attempt, it seems, as two days after the story ended the Tweeter Rater went back to doing what it does best – rating tweets.

It was, by all accounts, odd. The Tweeter Rater had gone from being this nice little joke account to this insane meta horror story back to this nice little (now more than slightly sinister) joke account. Then, from the Henry Blank (Hank) account:

Rating continued, but underneath it all people were trying to work out what had happened, and what could be done. Then, out of the blue, a chap called Timescanner who inhabits what is generally known as Weird Twitter, tweeted this:

To which the Tweeter Rater, in a rare interaction, asked:

The resounding reply was “YES!”

This was 19th March, 2013, and over the course of the day TR picked twelve people to play Duodecim. Whatever that was. A quick google would tell you it was Latin for “twelve” – Latin being a frequently used trope of the Tweeter Rater. However, there is no mention of a game called Duodecim. What was the TR up to? I tried to get in the game, but wasn’t selected as one of the twelve. This morning (March 21st, 2013), this tweet:

The chosen Twelve were as follows:

and whilst the TR remained characteristically silent in the run-up to the game (other than correction pronunciations of the game’s name and setting up a list in which to view all users), the twelve buzzed around excitedly. Most of them were from Weird Twitter – @castinemachine, @regisl and @Horse_Crimes being some of my own favourites, but there were also some jokers in there; literal joker @_L_M_C_ and the amazing @hexachordal. They prepared excitedly, having been sent the rules of the game in secret beforehand. Nobody knew exactly what was to occur until 8pm struck, and the game began.

To not embed every tweet done in that introduction, allow me to again summarise – it was to be a tweet-off, six rounds of twelve minutes each based around a certain topic of the Tweeter Rater’s choosing. They were expected to excel, and “strive to write the Tweet Supreme”.

And it began, and it was beautiful. Over the next hour and a half I saw some of the best tweets I’ve ever seen – tiny nuggets of perfect poetry, sharp gags, and under-140-character magic spells. I won’t post all my favourites here (though I am making a list), but I will post my favourite from each round.

Round 1 – Genesis:

Round 2 – Comment on the following piece of art:

Round 3 – A tweet that makes creative visual use of one or more characters, like visual puns.

Round 4 – Time

https://twitter.com/castinemachine/status/314842528853655552

(that was my favourite tweet of the entire night, too. I’m in love with it)

Round 5 – Science

By this point I was basically exhausted from reading so many amazing tweets. This is a tiny tiny cross-section of a furious night of creativity from twelve geniuses in the ultimate battle of wit. The TR presided over the whole thing, only butting in when absolutely necessary; to clear up a point of order, perhaps, or announce the next round.

For what it’s worth, here is some real-time reaction from me.

Then, along came Round 6.

And then it left us all for the night, to sit and scream at our computers and cry with pure exhilaration and admiration for whichever cool genius was running the TR account. That final twist just left us all with our mouths open in shock and awe, and as all the competitors chatted excitedly about the unique evening they’d just experienced (there would never be another Duodecim), and us spectators chimed in with our own thoughts, a weird kind of community built itself up from nothing.

Real-time poetry and instant community. That’s why Twitter is a beautiful thing. And it’s not done yet. Read what happened twelve days later – the second part of Duodecim ishere, so read on and find out the terrible truth behind the Tweeter Rater.

(and if you enjoyed this, please follow me on Twitter – @PatrickEchoEcho)

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4 thoughts on “Duodecim

  1. Sir, this is a remarkable piece of writing. A beautiful story synopsised quite magnificently. I hope you write another soon; perhaps when this must end.

    • Thank you. I have some original writing around this site too, if you’re interested. It’s knocking about somewhere, anyway. I’ll probably write a synopsis of tonight’s events, as the second half of the Duodecim closes.

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