The internet allowed us to cooperate in many various tasks – from writing documents and coding to… creating masterpieces! Recently, on April Fools’ day, Reddit opened the so-called “r/place” which simply was a huge empty white canvas of size 2000 x 2000 pixels that could be edited by every user. For four days, every Redditor could change the color (32 colors were available) of a single-pixel every 5 minutes – this rule forced people to collaborate to have an impact on the canvas.
During the first two days, around 72 million pixels were placed by more than 6 million users! On average, 2.5 million pixels were changed every hour! Just have a look at this video showing the progress in creating the r/place canvas of 2022:
Since a single pixel meant nothing, just after the event started, large communities of people started working together on planning their contribution to the canvas. Many Redditors connected via other subreddits to coordinate in creating pixel arts. However, other platforms like Discord and Twitch played significant roles – streamers had specifically big impact since their communities are usually active while watching streams. Some of these collaborations resulted in really outstanding pixel arts — check out these examples (there are so many of them that I couldn’t choose which ones are my fav):
A social experiment
It is important to mention, that this was the second edition of r/place after the first one in 2017. Reddit is one of the biggest information exchange platforms with 174 million registered users (2020). Events like “r/place” are social experiments that show us how people can collaborate in creating something creative. This one proved again how online communities of people who usually don’t know each other can collaborate even without talking to each other. It also reveals that handling such an experiment can be difficult from the technical standpoint — Reddit needed to take care of many issues including frontend, backend, handling millions of requests every hour, bots, and many more. After the event finished, the data of every single pixel were shared by Reddit and now, everyone can dig through the history o every piece of the artwork!
Do you think that this kind of experiments are useful in exploring the nature of online communities? May collaboration in creating pixel arts translate into the real world problems?