Thursday, May 15, 2014

Webdriver Torso: YouTube mystery

quote [On 23 September 2013 at 14:45, YouTube user Webdriver Torso quietly uploaded a video.
The mysterious 11-second sequence of red and blue rectangles could easily have been lost, unexplained and unappreciated among YouTube's plethora of kittens and music videos. But 28 minutes later Webdriver uploaded an almost identical video, and another an hour after that, and another, until eight months later - apparently happy with nearly 80,000 clips - they fell silent, with 236 hours of video to their name.
Almost all of the uploads follow the same pattern - 10 slides, each with a red rectangle, a blue rectangle and a computer-generated tone.
The shapes change size and the notes change pitch. Each video appears to be unique, but the format stays the same].

Spy messages?

Wired magazine first stumbled on the clips in February as part of a feature on obscure YouTube uploads.

A Google search for “Webdriver Torso” only turns up results related to the YouTube channel. (We reached out to Webdriver Torso via the YouTube messenger, but have not heard back.)

A search for “Webdriver” alone, however, is somewhat more fruitful.

On the blog BoingBoing, user Enkidu speculated that the videos might be a digital version of spies' "numbers stations". These cold war relics are radio stations that broadcast seemingly random numbers at periodic intervals.

The very first video uploaded to the channel, over a month before the first rectangle classic, reveals a completely different side to Webdriver.
Locked behind a 1.99 euro ($2.76; £1.63) paywall and only accessible if you're in France, is a clip from the cartoon series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, in which the show's three anthropomorphic fast-food items - Frylock, Meatwad and Master Shake - fail to win a pub quiz.

The second anomalous clip only raises more questions.
In video 1,182 we have what could be our first sighting of Webdriver.
Filmed from a Parisian balcony, the six-second clip shows an Eiffel Tower lightshow followed by a fleeting glimpse of a face.

Below the video, Webdriver has left a comment, their only known communication with the world: "Matei is highly intelligent."

(via BBC)

quote [Selenium is a set of tools that help you automate Web-based tasks. According to its site, “it is for automating Web applications for testing purposes, but it is certainly not limited to just that.” One of the tools Selenium offers is something called WebDriver.
“WebDriver is a tool for writing automated tests of websites,” reads the WebDriver FAQ. “It aims to mimic the behavior of a real user, and as such interacts with the HTML of the application.” So we reached out to the owners of Selenium WebDriver identified in this list of developers. It looked likely that “Webdriver torso” was part of this project, not only because of the shared neologism but also because automation seemed like the only plausible explanation for uploading this quantity of video.
But Patrick Lightbody, who has been involved with Selenium since 2005, denied that there was any connection between their WebDriver and Webdriver Torso. “Those videos look like they are trying to make contact with aliens,” he wrote].
(via The Daily Dot)

[Previously: The mistery of Numbers station ]

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