Chris Blattman

The banality of anarchy

A brilliant article on the emergence of “order” from anarchy:

For April Fool’s Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.

Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.

From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this:

There is drama. An epic war between Germany and France. And of course Dickbutt.

Then 4chan gets involved, trying to turn the entire canvas black: The Void.

Take, for example, the part of the canvas right in the center. Almost since the very beginning, it had been one of the most contested areas on the map. Time and again, Creators had tried to claim the territory for their own. First with icons. Then with a coordinated attempt at a prism.

But the Void ate them all. Art after art succumbed to its ravenous appetite for chaos.

And yet, this was exactly what Place needed. By destroying art, the Void forced Placetions to come up with something better. They knew they could overcome the sourge. They just needed an idea good enough, with enough momentum and enough followers, to beat the black monster.

That idea was the American flag.



Hat tip @arvind_ilamaran

3 Responses

  1. Um I don’t think the US flag ‘destroyed’ the void. The dark side of the moon, Mona Lisa, the Irish and others did more imo.

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