Cover: Bots, by Nick Monaco and Samuel Woolley

Series Title

Digital Media and Society Series


nick monaco and samuel woolley



At this point, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time in my life when I hadn’t heard the word “bot.” The last decade of research and learning has been a thrilling journey, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. In no particular order, I want to express my deepest thanks to Tim Hwang, Marina Gorbis, John Kelly, Vladimir Barash, Camille François, Phil Howard, Clint Watts, Mark Louden, Frieda Ekotto, Helmut Puff, Roman Graf, Ralph Hailey, Rosemarie Hartner, Chou Changjen, Yao Yuwen, and Yauling and Joel for their support, guidance, and encouragement. I’m continually inspired by all the courageous journalists, activists, and researchers I’ve worked with over the years, especially my colleagues and friends in Taiwan – your work changes lives. A huge thanks to my friends Sam C., Nate, Amanda, Ike, Anj, Sylvia, Quin, Renata, Samantha, Jake, Jackie, Skyler, Trevor, Jane, and Doug for making life so full and always being up for an interminable conversation. My co-author, Sam Woolley, you’ve been an incredible friend and colleague, and I’m already looking forward to our next project. Lastly and above all, I’m most grateful to my wonderful family – Mom, Dad, Grammy, Mark, Ben, Britnea, Franki, Rocco, Benni, Murphy, Andi, and all the Monacos and Carmacks. Your love has made me who I am. There’s no better family on Earth.


First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for their constant, enthusiastic, support of my work. Without their encouragement, advice, and love I would never be able to do what I do. To Samantha, Pip, Mum, Dad, Oliver, Justin, Daniela, Manuela, Basket, Mathilda, Banjo, Charlie, and the Woolley, Donaldson, Loor, Shorey, Westlund, and Joens families – a sincere thank you for everything. To all of my friends – particularly Nick Monaco – thank you so very much for all of the learning and laughs. You make each day fun and inspiring. I’d also like to thank the members of my research team, the Propaganda Research Lab, collaborators at the Center for Media Engagement, and colleagues at the School of Journalism and Media and Moody School of Communication – all at the University of Texas at Austin. Finally, I’d like to thank the organizations that support my ongoing research, particularly Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations, and the Knight Foundation.



AI – Artificial Intelligence

ANT – Actor Network Theory

ASA – Automated Social Actors

CUI – Conversational User Interface

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit

GUI – Graphical User Interface

HCI – Human–Computer Interaction

HMC – Human–Machine Communication

IO – Information Operations

IRC – Internet Relay Chat

ML – Machine Learning

MT – Machine Translation

MUD – Multi-user domain, multi-user dungeon

NLP – Natural Language Processing

RES – Robot Exclusion Standard

STS – Science, Technology, and Society studies