An Aardvark at SwarmSketch.

Via Information Nation, I found SwarmSketch. Here’s the description:

SwarmSketch: Collective sketching of the collective consciousness.

SwarmSketch is an ongoing online canvas that explores the possibilities of distributed design by the masses. Each week it randomly chooses a popular search term which becomes the sketch subject for the week. In this way, the collective is sketching what the collective thought was important each week. (Due to increased traffic sketches are currently being updated after about 1000 lines)

Each user can contribute a small amount of line per visit, then they are given the opportunity to vote on the opacity of lines submitted by other users. By voting, users moderate the input of other users, judging the quality of each line. The darkness of each line is the average of all its previous votes.

SwarmSketch was developed by Peter Edmunds as part of an honours project at the University of Canberra.

That SwarmSketch works at all is quite amazing. No contributor can draw more than a couple hundred contiguous pixels, so establishing even the basic shape of the drawing is a test of our common understanding of the subject. Fortunately, contributors can vote on the opacity of other lines once they’ve drawn theirs. Yes, it has the effect of erasing — community moderation — another’s line, but also allows grayscale elements to be inserted in what would otherwise be line-art.

Go make a mark, or view the gallery of previous works. My favorites are “World Record Catfish,” “Python Eating Alligator,” and “Mr. Olympia.” Above is “Aardvark.” Your awe for the project will increase if you watch the history animation of a picture forming (click the clock icon by the lower-left corner of any picture).