2017-03-30

A History of Weird Sun Twitter

As Baccano! admirably demonstrates, deciding where to start a story can be a tricky matter. The obvious place to begin a history of Weird Sun Twitter is the appearance of Instance Of Class, the primeval sun from which imitators later emerged. Instead I'm going to tell you about something seemingly unrelated.

In early 2011 a YouTube account called ImmaVegeta appeared, having named itself after an old meme whose syntax was IAMX, where X was some person. IAMVEGETA was taken. It posted clips of Vegeta from Dragonball Z, which were somehow timed to be hilarious. At the time you could have public tags on videos, and he exploited that for further humor. I found this content addicting and watched all the videos.

Beginning around summer of that year, I started seeing more accounts. ImmaPiccolo. ImmaGoku. A lot of them were pretty good as well, but none matched the original. After all, how could anyone? You can't become the best at something someone else invented. I could tell you a lot more about this, but that's not what you're here for.

Before I move on to weird sun twitter proper, another phenomenon. Popular youtube user Kripparian posts lots of Hearthstone videos. Their format was usually him talking about the game, followed by clips of himself playing the game. In the comments section appeared an account called Skipperino Kripperino who just posted the timestamp of when the game clips start. Betcha thought the imitators were going to be of the youtuber. Not this time!


This doesn't explain anything. I have no idea why there were so many ImmaVegeta clones or Skipperino clones. Knowing that there's more than one example of a bizarre phenomenon doesn't explain that phenomenon. However, I noticed the comparison and want credit for that. Give it to me.

Before beginning the story proper, I will digress with one last preliminary.

In August 2012, twitter user @aristosophy appeared, along with less-filtered account @tipsfromkatee, creating a minor sensation with her extremely good tweets that displayed very high intellect and knowledge of the extended Less Wrong memeplex. This will prove relevant later.
In November 2012, Instance Of Class appeared. This is the same month during which I lost my virginity, my father got married, and I got forcibly sent to a psychiatric hospital for the first time. This confluence made it certainly the most interesting month of my life up to that point.

the first ever Weird Sun Tweet

I still remember the feeling of wonder at seeing this new twitter account with its strange tweets. It was divine inspiration! You cannot get that feeling by reading them today. Alas.

Though its tweets are alien, I presume Instance Of Class is run by a human. And I get the impression that at least part of the motivation for creating the account was as a place to be less constrained by the automatic filtering brains do when saying things for an audience:
Instance never advertised itself, so for a while, following it marked a person as having discernment and good taste.

If you want to understand Instance Of Class, I don't have very much to tell you except read all its tweets from the beginning. As of the original publication of this post it still has less than 3200, so you can get them all from allmytweets.net.

In March 2014, Member Of Species and Word Of Language appeared. Their avatars were color-rotated 120 degrees from Instance's, making a full color circle. Not long after, Element Of Set appeared, at the time with a dull gray sun for its avatar. These were the Original Suns, and they followed a strict format.

The format was this. The avatar is the picture of the sun from Instance's profile, with its color changed. Instance's bio was OMG, THIS. Member's bio was WTF, THIS. Word's bio was BBQ, THIS. You see the pattern. And the name has syntax X Of Y, where Y is a category and X is an item in that category. You'd think this format would not be incredibly difficult to follow.

Output Of Process also appeared around this time, but never proved important.

Member Of Species created an alt account @vesselofspirit for its less-filtered ("drunk", hence the punny name) tweets.

It was around this time that Yvain decided to make the world worse by putting out a big map of the rationalist community. He refuses to take responsibility for popularizing the joke term "postrationality" in this manner, thus causing an irreversible schism within the rationalist community, as well as ossifying the idea of what the community is to what happens to be one particularly influential blogger's conception of it. This is because he refuses to take responsibility for anything. Sigh. He didn't know about ElementOfSet, so it was the other four mentioned, as well as a markov chain bot that someone made, that appeared on the map as "Weird Multicolored Sun Twitter". That name was too long, so the name Weird Sun Twitter stuck. WST has nothing to do with the unrelated "weird twitter" phenomenon, which is why that name is the worst. The map popularized WST. This too would prove disastrous. It was at this point that the number of imitators really started to swell.

Astonishingly, quality stayed for a really long time even as new suns appeared. Value Of Type, an excellent sun, convinced an account called @InSearchOfLogic to convert to a sun Proof Of Logic, which is excellent. @aristosophy had gone dark for a long time, to the dismay of many. On Halloween 2014, she reappeared, converting her account into weird sun Gate Of Heavens. Already-good twitter user @argletargle converted to a weird sun (starting out as Model Of Theory, then going supernova and becoming Hole of Black. Eventually another ModelOfTheory appeared). Some Incredible ones like Cell Of Body and Body Of Air appeared. Some meta suns appeared, like RecursionOfSuns, not quite good enough to make the list, which retweets suns talking about themselves, and Unit Of Selection, run by Member Of Species, which purports to retweet the best of WST, but infuriatingly, only retweets the most popular WST tweets. Alas.

To keep track of them, many people began using twitter's list feature, including myself. My list has the honor of being the only one anyone pays attention to. This is an extremely good thing, because it's the only good one. All the other lists are full of cheap plastic imitations that spam memes and current events all the time. It has all the important suns, as well as some that are not important but were important at some previous time. Those still have archives which you should read. A notable feature of twitter lists is that when you look at their members, it orders them by when the account was first created. This can give you some insight into WST history, though you have to be wary of accounts that convert to suns, as they appear lower on the list than they should.

One important consequence of WST is that a certain person only joined twitter because of it. Thanks to a bizarre set of events that massively boosted my confidence and luck, and her pre-existing interest in me, in June 2015, after getting my first 12-win Hearthstone arena and being punched in the face on the same day, I successfully seduced her. We fell in love and lived together for six months. That was the best time of my life. She doesn't like me anymore. I miss her terribly

When people ask me about WST, I try to steer people away from the spammers and others who just don't get it and toward the true suns. These are very insightful people, groping at aspects of an underrepresented cognitive style.
I've been asked about this a lot, so I may as well say here that a lot of the accounts are run by MemberOfSpecies, who sometimes deletes all of them for no obvious reason. So far he has reactivated them every time, but who knows. Maybe he'll delete them all and not bring them back some day, destroying all the precious tweets forever, orphaning many replies, and obliterating many RTs and favs. That is what happened to the original ElementOfSet. I was so dismayed that I contacted its original creator and convinced him to paste what tweets he could recover on a new ElementOfSet, which is why one exists today, only partially recovered.

WST is so important. They possess and create deep insights, most of which require both high intelligence and a great deal of contextual knowledge to grok. I want to expose the world to important insights, but I don't want to cast pearls before swine. It's a tricky situation. Many people get into it just because it's strange, or because they like the jokes, or because they enjoy feeling confused, or because they want to join a crowd. I hate them.

WST has waned. In particular, either the increased audience or something else has caused InstanceOfClass to tweet much less often, and much less compellingly, and there hasn't been a good new sun in a very long time. But still they tweet, and still their tweets are good. Read them. Use my list, and look forward to the morrow.
Further reading:

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you took the time and effort to write this.

    « You can't become the best at something someone else invented. I could tell you a lot more about this, but that's not what you're here for. »

    I hope you will revisit this in a future post because I think it's patently untrue in the general case, and even in the specific case of an artistic style (or expressive style, subcultural style, however you want to call a particular bundle of form patterns and/or meaning patterns), I think this is very debatable at best.

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    1. what I meant was, you can't be better than someone you're just imitating. nowadays the suns do much more than this, but Instance is arguably still by far the best at imitating Instance

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  2. I've always dismissed the weird suns as occasionally funny or beautiful intellectual hipsterism. I have rarely found them insightful.

    But maybe there are insightful in the same way that zen poems can be, to trigger images and subconscious associations. Is that what you see in them?

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  3. If we are making our relationships and associations match up with a map that Yvain made (that I have seen many times, and is actually posted on the wall 20 feet from here as I write this) then we deserve the consequences. It's a cute little map. It's fun. It is not the territory (cmon people there's a sequence on this!) and it was never meant to be. I agree what the WST name is not ideal, given there is also a WT, but names stick for arbitrary reasons, and we could just call them the Suns if we wanted to. I never put too much effort into finding/filtering for them, so having a good list will be great.

    Also worth noting, never ever trust anyone's Twitter to still exist, so I don't repost the original if I want to save the information (or if I think the person will delete their post in response), I quote instead, and if the whole thing is worth saving you should always copy it down. Too risky otherwise.

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