Why a robot? Apparently, despite the robotically trendy behavior of its human users, Instagram abhors actual robotic posts, blocking its API from use by third-party applications. According to Labs’ team members George Ward and Chris Reif, because A&G; saw the service as “existing for [their] own selfish needs,” they originally wanted to get an intern to do the job, but quickly found some practical problems with that. Since the project is just an experiment for now and doesn’t have any support from a client, for example, there’s no anticipating what kind of human resources would have to go into Pic Nix’s operation should it become popular. And of course, B.O.B allows A&G; to “publish the photos in real time, 24/7, without us torturing interns.” And there’s just something fitting about a sassy robot doing work that an already-annoyed person can’t find time in their day to do.
The interface by which users interact with Pic Nix is easy and fun. On the Pic Nix site, they can select the offending friend’s username and select a cliched Instagram photo category from a pre-existing list. Two pre-populated captions can then be added to the post to detail the friend’s offenses. Why only two? Due to the API restriction, the robot must type out the posts itself with its grounded capacitive stylus, making the short missives into a labor-intensive process. Type2Phone, a Bluetooth keyboard emulator, speeds things up a little bit, but the process must still be done by ‘hand.’ It’s truly a Rube Goldberg machine for the passive-aggressive. And if it doesn’t work out, Ward and Reif say, they’ll just reuse the xy plotter for something else – let’s hope it’s equally devious.