Saturday, June 25, 2022
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r/Place vs. pixel war

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Since Friday, millions of Reddit users have come together to create a massive, collaborative piece of art that has become a viral phenomenon.

of Reddit r/Location is a subdirectory that acts as an open canvas, where each user can post a single, small, color pixel every five minutes. The project started as an April Fools Day experiment in 2017, and in its first year, over a million Reddit users placed nearly 16 million tiles on the shared digital canvas. He returned five years later, and those numbers skyrocketed. As of Sunday night, approximately 72 million tiles had been placed by over 6 million users at a rate of over 2.5 million tiles per hour.

It is impossible to build alone, as each user can only place a single small tile every five minutes. The five-minute cooldown limits any person’s ability to master the canvas. Instead, users are forced to work together and form coordinated communities to produce collective works of pixel art.

Large subdirectories such as r/trees and r/ukraine He began organizing his campaigns early on, collectively filling the field with a large marijuana leaf and a Ukrainian flag, respectively. Users r/star wars recreated an entire movie poster. The trans community placed a big trans flag on the screen.

The end result is a giant, pixelated collage of pictures and words. Aesthetically reminiscent of The Million Dollar Home PageA website built in 2005 by Alex Tew, a 21-year-old entrepreneur who hopes to win college by selling 1 million pixels of Internet advertising space on a homepage for $1 each. But unlike the homepage, r/Place is constantly being refreshed.

Fandoms unite to outdo other communities’ images or take a seat on the board. Some users are prone to destruction. In 2017, a large, misshapen black blob called the “gap” surfaced and attempted to contain the project. It reappeared this year as well, but only momentarily. Some people tried to sabotage the other group’s creations with streams of purple pixels.

Author Annie Rauwerda wrote: Login. Canvas is home to an ever-growing ecosystem of memes, cultural references and niche community symbols.

While Place is a Reddit phenomenon (started by Josh Wardle, who went on to create the viral word game Wordle while working at Reddit), the success of the project this year has been heavily influenced by the rise of other community-focused platforms. Like Discord and Twitch.

Users set up dedicated Discord servers to schedule their takeover of certain corners of the canvas, including “Embassy” channels where different groups can collaborate and form alliances. There are many college logos and flags from different countries represented. Purdue University and a group that wanted to keep the Irish flag on the canvas formed an alliance. “We put a little heart between the two that represents alliances between neighboring groups,” said Ian Jones, a software engineer in Chicago.

Major Twitch streamers have also contributed to Place’s growth, prompting thousands of fans to mark the canvas with their favorite streamers’ logos or symbols. Twitch creators such as xQc, Mizkif, Sodapoppin, Pokimane, Hasan Piker, Myth, and Asmongold have tuned in to watch the laying of tiles and help create new images. British YouTuber and Twitch streamer Jack Manifold encouraged fans to use his pixels. wear 3D glasses In images of people and animals in the Place, outgoing momentary confusion.

If Place says anything about the Internet, it’s a testament to the growing power of online communities. Since its last iteration, online platforms have experienced massive fragmentation.

“Ever since Covid became a thing, people have been showing a lot more interest in online communities,” said Casey Holmes, Twitch streamer in Austin. “Social media is in a different place than it was before Place’s latest debut.”

More users, especially younger ones, are now trying to connect with others in closed communities or online groups like Discord or a similar platform called Geneva, rather than on large, open social media sites.

But this trend towards groups and more online social experiences can also leave people longing to interact with the masses. Brian Lynch, a lawyer and Reddit moderator in San Diego, said the Place has become Reddit’s de facto public square over the past few days. “Even though the internet has gone through this breaking process with communities, I think these groups are still looking for that central town hall or central area,” he said.

It is noteworthy that Place was never about all users working together, but rather a space for communities to exert their influence. Eugene Wei, a technology entrepreneur in San Francisco, sees Place as a perfect metaphor for the modern Internet, where the power of individuals to shape discourse or exert influence online is only as powerful as the collective of which they are a part.

“In the internet age, everybody needs a cult, everybody needs a group,” Wei said. “Part of the reason you need these cults is the landscape of social media. You need soldiers in your army to fight and defend against things. The Internet allows groups of people to increase their influence through coordination. In this way, Place is a pure version of that.” In other words, if you don’t have a group to coordinate and reinforce your message, your individual pixel or audio will be reversed and deleted.

The hope of the internet was to connect humanity in a way that would allow everyone to coordinate and build things at scale, but in reality, large networks of bubbles and groups sometimes form alliances to create, while also competing and fighting. “Perhaps the disappointment of the internet is that there aren’t any more instances where people can point to large-scale human coordination to create things,” Wei said.

Christopher Torres, pixel artist and nyan cathas made various contributions to Place. “Trying to preserve the piece you’ve made is a bit addictive,” he said. “It’s like a territorial war, but it’s also a social statement. We need to protect this little penguin in the corner from this guy who is throwing purple dots on it.”

Many of the images that appear on Place reflect the values ​​of the communities involved. The Ukrainian flag showed up on the canvas on Saturday, as did the trans flag and various LGBT flags. People used Place to express anti-NFT susceptibility; Others, like the Wall Street Bets, have pumped their breast stocks. Fandoms of groups like BTS and other anime and video games quickly took up space on the canvas. Some users have created a “bike lane” surrounding the path created on the canvas.

Senior at Cooper Union, Alexa Jakob, part of a subreddit dedicated to raising awareness about the environmental impact of cars, helped create a massive parking lot on the Place. “We chose to do this parking lot to show why the current subreddit,” she said. “We wanted to show that parking lots are a real waste of space and cars are incredibly wasteful. Space is a way for different communities to show what they value.”

The fact that Place hasn’t been completely overrun with trolls posting hate symbols is a testament to the dedicated communities focused on keeping radicalized groups in check. In 2017, several small swastikas were quickly canceled by other communities. (Somebody immediately converted to a Windows 95 logo“I was actually surprised that there weren’t so many far-right images,” Jakob said. Perhaps while these voices are heard loudly online, they are eventually dulled by other major fandoms and groups that dominate the canvas.

Part of the project’s popularity is the increasingly rare sense of collectivism as the Internet becomes more fragmented and polarized. To keep up with the skyrocketing demand this year, Reddit has expanded the digital canvas and added more color options to the palette every day. The project ends Monday at 9 PM Pacific time.

“It really brings people together,” said Ava Pape, a high school freshman in northern Virginia. “There is a lot of turmoil at the international and national level regarding politics, but you see a lot of people giving up on it for a moment. You go to lay a tile or make a joke out of something or make a piece of art and you are there with a whole bunch of other people. You may not be able to look at their accounts to see who they are, but you’re still just working with them to create it.”

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