When the entire internet has just one canvas to paint3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
What is art? Something like this?
Or perhaps this?
Maybe even this?
But what about this?
But that’s merely a dot! Well, the internet has done it again. Altogether, millions of people have created a massive work of art using just plain old dots…spaced 5 minutes apart.
If you read that and immediately said: “Oh right! That’s r/place!”, you may want to skip over the next few paragraphs. However, if you’re completely baffled and slightly concerned for the mental well-being of the author of this article, read on.
Does this little ‘r’ and ‘/’ look familiar to you? That’s right! I am referring to some Reddit shenanigans. r/place is a — you guessed it– space on Reddit. It is a corner of the internet where anyone in the world can come together with others and create art.
So, how does it work?
Well, it all starts on the r/place subreddit. Users come on and see an empty white space to which they can add a coloured dot. Then, they have to wait five whole minutes before they can place the next dot. And slowly, using just coloured dots, they can draw something on the blank canvas.
However, since each user has to wait for five minutes to put the next dot, people can’t really work alone: if they want to create something, that is. Instead, they must collaborate with other users and plan to create something together, all the while making sure that no one else is overlapping their work.
Once you place a dot on the canvas, you don’t hold claim over that dot. Anyone can place a dot over yours and sabotage you and your team’s work. In fact, this led to some healthy competition amongst various groups on the internet.
Do you recognise any of these creations on r/place?
Is r/place still open for business?
Nope. R/place was only open for four days, and while you can find the complete picture that remained at the end of the fourth day online, you cannot add any more dots to the canvas.
Why did Reddit create r/place?
So, what’s the point of r/place? People come together, create cartoons, and that’s it? Well, yeah. The entire exercise was simply a social experiment. The creators of r/place wanted to observe how people would behave when they had no choice but to work together to create something.
On the one hand, r/place brought out the best of the internet with people coming together to make art, spread messages of peace, and share their love for their country or beliefs. On the other hand, r/place brought out a not-so-pleasant side of the internet. People got into mini-wars over space on the canvas. Some tried to destroy others’ works or create unseemly images on the canvas. And others employed bots to do their bidding. In fact, people claim that there were more bots than people contributing to r/place.
But then again, would a representation of the internet really be complete without bots?