• The aesthetics of anarchy: an April Fool's experiment on reddit that granted users the ability to contribute (one pixel at a time) to a big blank canvas quickly transformed into a collaborative, competitive work, flickering in and out of visual cohesion. The article maps out a chronology of activity and how trends from various factions played out over the course of the experiment. It's probably unwise to draw any big conclusions about our collective prospects as a species based on a digital mural from an internet forum, but it has some positive indications for our ability to work collectively with great agility to make something from nothing. With reddit's periodic reputation for hosting hate speech and doxxing campaigns it's also a glimmer of hope that the final version of the canvas contained no racist/hate symbols (this is according to the article, we haven't scoured the totality of it ourselves to confirm). On the other hand it's disappointing that given a blank slate, mostly people pulled together to recreate brands, videogame characters, flags, and sports logos rather than producing original concepts. From a speed to organization perspective reproducing well-known imagery is certainly a lower bar to clear for aligning efforts. It also speaks to why people respond so strongly to the 21st century readymade of the internet meme: a set of sights, sounds and words that speak to what we already believe to be true, rather than challenging us to dive deeper, think critically and invent for ourselves. We'll be thinking about this experiment for awhile. 
  • A concise analysis of how aggressive ad placements and newsletter signups are turning activity in browsers into a nuisance-laden chore, making the web less legible


Upgrading Ourselves: 



Big Business: 




More next week.