Then I saw how Japanese scientists have sent a very small, talking robot, called Kirobo, up to the International Space Station. Apparently the idea is to see “how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods”.
Now, given that Kirobo is a mere 34″ tall and only speaks Japanese; and seeing as there’s only one Japanese speaker in the crew of 6 astronauts, I’m not sure how successful this experiment is going to be.
If I was jammed inside a dustbin, with 5 sweaty spacemen, I reckon the last thing I’d want to see when I open up the airlock, is a plastic android, squeaking incomprehensible greetings and making weird gestures with his little arms. I’d have been hoping for chocolate or hard liquor. I suspect Kirobo might get accidentally stepped on any day soon.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Thinking about robots got me thinking how they need algorithms to function and in turn, that got me thinking about formulaic blog titles and how they are just repeatable algorithms. And then, that got me wondering if I could build a robot to write blog titles. And then I just got carried away
you can check him out here or read on to find out what makes him tick.
I based my algorithm on Dale Carnegie’s all-time classic headline:
How to Win Friends and Influence People.
As you can see it’s a simple three-part formula; ’How to‘ followed by ‘do something‘ followed by ‘do something else‘.
Accordingly, I created three lists. The first one contains as many variations as I could think of on the phrase ‘How to’. Things like:
- How Not to…
- How You Can…
- How You Could…
- Why You Should…
- Ten Ways to…
- Top Ten Tips to… and so on.
For the second list I made variations of the bridging phrase ‘Win Friends and…’. Things like:
- Run Faster and…
- Grow Your Own Tobacco and…
- Write Better Blog Posts and…
- Program in Java and …. etc.
And for the final list I focused on outcomes, such as:
- Reach the Top
- Seduce Anyone You Fancy
- Bench Press 300 pounds … you get the idea.
It took five minutes to get Excel to randomly pick combinations of phrases. At first it produced suitably inspiring titles like:
- How to Think Like Einstein and Master Foreign Exchange Trading
- How Not to Write Bad Blog Posts and Lose Your Audience
Which was great. But it also came up with wonderfully surreal things like:
- Could You Ever Think Like a Sociopath and Build an Aeroplane in Your Backyard?
- Sign Up Here to Suck at Life and Still Die Happy
Messages from Another World
And that’s when I got a bit obsessed. Over the next two days I feverishly wrote down more and more variations, both credible and incredible. I loved the way that random chance threw up weird juxtapositions that frequently made me laugh out loud. Even though I’d written the component parts myself, some of the more bizzarre juxtapositions felt as though they’d been written by aliens.
I was having so much fun with it, that I thought you might like to be able to play with it too.
And now it’s ready – meet Title-Bot - I hope you enjoy him as much as I enjoyed building him.
But also I hope that you can actually use it for inspiration. My idea is that this is not a tool to actually write your headlines for you; although some of them could be used directly. Rather the idea is to kickstart your mind by coming up with something faintly ludicrous which might inspire you to look at your own niche in a new way.
Title-Bot has already sparked a few ideas for me and posts will be forthcoming soon.
If you do wind up writing a blog post based on any one of its suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.
By the way don’t wory too much about Title-Bot running out of ideas any time soon. Each of the three lists has 250 entries, so if my maths is correct that makes over 15 million possible combinations!
Some are fun, some are inspirational, some are silly, some are surreal and some, just to spice things up are deliberately downbeat.
My two favourites so far?
- How to Use Fear to Cure Your Hemorrhoids and Solve World Hunger
- Ancient Aztec Secrets to Train a Dog to Become an Expert in Your Niche