Texting with Drake… sorta.
Started from the bot, now we here.
If you’re like me, you’ve frequently entertained the idea of what it’d be like to be friends with Drake.
Or let’s take it one step further: Maybe you’ve imagined yourself being the object of Drake’s affection. The subject of his songs. The woman (or man) who keeps him up at night, tossing and turning in his OVO sweats and wondering whether or not he should text you first.
So, it got me thinking:
What if there was a way to simulate being in a hot-and-cold relationship with hip hop’s most emotionally sensitive, lovelorn artist?
What would it be like to have Drake woo you, chase you, then fight with you in a Cheesecake Factory parking lot, then apologize to you, then get way too clingy, then inevitably force you to break up with him or (worse) to friendzone him?
And what if all of this took place on Drake’s favorite mode of communication: The cell phone. (The same cell phone you used to call him on, late night when you needed his love.)
Say hello to Botline Bling.
Botline Bling is an SMS bot I created to let you enjoy an emotional-roller-coaster of a relationship with Drake over text. Because with Drake, that’s the only kind of relationship you’re gonna get.
Just text BOTLINE or BLING to 630–755–6641.
Drake (or rather, bot-Drake) will handle the rest.
Why do this?
Let me be perfectly clear about something: I’m a huge Drake fan. I truly, genuinely, sincerely would like to be friends with him. And I honestly hope that happens some day.
I love his work, his swagger, his attitude, his personal brand, his actual brand, his ability to conquer the Internet, his self-awareness, his deep love for the Toronto Raptors, and the fact that, like me, he’s kind of a sensitive dude who shows vulnerability. He, like me (and probably a lot of guys out there), has the #feels.
And anyone who’s listened to his music knows that that sensitive side plays a huge role in his songs, so many of which are about the ups and downs of his relationships. It just made sense to have fun with that, especially with his latest album, which is particularly feels-y.
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Secondly, I’m a huge fan of chat bots. I’m intrigued by their potential, especially when it comes to entertainment and marketing (i.e. my job). People like Esther Crawford have done some very cool things with bots, using the technology in a super creative, clever way. And, to be clear, I got a TON of help with this bot thanks to an amazing tutorial by John Borthwick, which anyone interested in bots should definitely check out.
I don’t think bots are a fad. When used correctly, they can enhance the way people interact with your product, whether that’s an app or a store or, in this case, a very moody Drake. And as an amateur developer, I figured this’d be a fun, ridiculous way to learn more about this brave new bot-world.
So what DID I learn?
Here’s a rough overview of some trends, gleaned from the 25,962 text messages exchanged thus far.* (If you’re wondering why so many people asked about Cheesecake Factory, it’s because the Cheesecake Factory is referenced in a lyric on his latest album. That, or people are just genuinely curious about getting Drake’s thoughts on the restaurant.)
- Y’all are fucking disgusting, depraved sex freaks: Some of the sexts the bot received were just… like… whoa.
- In this post, Esther Crawford wrote that, with her bot, she learned that humans “go wildly off-script.” And oh how right she was. While I had a rough script that “Drake” texted people to follow, a lot of the time people just wanted to fuck with him. But instead of losing faith in humanity, I decided to play along: I programmed in some responses to some of these off-script interactions. A lot of people were asking the bot for sexy pics, so of course, I had bot-Drake text back a sexy selfie. People were asking if Young Metro trusted him, and similarly, I programmed an appropriate response. Basically, if you’re making a bot, you have to expect people to misbehave. But if you fight fire with fire, and adjust accordingly, you end up actually getting some hilarious interactions as a result.
- I… became… Drake. At the beginning, 100% of the bot’s text responses were verbatim lyrics from Drake’s songs. But as I made some adjustments, and as users appeared to want a more natural back-and-forth interaction, I took on the persona of Aubrey Drake Graham. I added my own dialogue as if it were Drake, asking texters to hang out with him at Tim Hortons, or soliciting help from them to solve a really hard crossword puzzle he’s doing, or randomly asking texters whether they pronounce it “milk,” “melk,” or “cow juice.” It’s ridiculous, and I hope you mess around with the bot to get in on all the fun.
If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.
It’s not too late to get in on the action. The Botline Bling is up and running and ready for your feelings.
Start your relationship with Drake right now.
Text BOTLINE or BLING to 630–755–6641.
Hope you enjoy! Feel free to post screengrabs in the comments of some of the more eventful conversations you have with Drake.
And as for me, hopefully I’ll get to be Drake’s real friend some day, when we’ll go to Raptors games and text each other on the regular. But until then, this’ll have to do I guess.
If you had a twin I would still choose you. So please spread the love by hitting the ❤ below, and sharing.
And follow me on Twitter!
Thanks for reading!
Big shout-outs to Esther Crawford, John Borthwick, Betaworks, Dexter, Twilio, The AV Club, Mic, Chicago Inno, and of course, the one and only Drake. (Seriously Drake, let’s be buds. I’ll never fight with you at Cheesecake Factory.)
*5/26/16 update: Now at over 31,000 texts exchanged!! Y’all on your best behavior. Keep ’em coming.