Watch what happens when the world collaborates

It's the pulse of the world - thanks to an April Fool's Day experiment.

Watch what happens when the world collaborates
The top 30 communities with the most pixels on r/place. Courtesy of Reddit

On 1 April 2017 an interesting social art experiment popped up on Reddit.

A digital canvas was offered to the Internet where each user registered was allowed to place one tile, a single pixel from a 16-color palette, on a 1000×1000 canvas every five or so minutes.

This year, on 1 April, the social art experiment was repeated.

The 2022 event attracted 3.3 million users (double the number who took part last time around) who contributed to an overall image that was 2000x2000 pixel big using 16 new colours.

Here's a time-lapse of the end result as it unfolded.

Highlights of the event include:

A David vs. Goliath-esque battle broke out between small communities and Twitch streamers who directed their massive followings to wreak havoc across the entire canvas, replacing hours of hard work with streams of black pixels.
The Genshin Impact logo was repeatedly changed into variations of “Genshit,” “Genshrek,” and even “Sexshrek.”
Canadians unable to draw the Maple Leaf became a running joke in the community.
The Osu! community, dedicated to the rhythm game, had their pink round logo taken over several times. But the group was always quick to its defense and managed to immortalize the logo on this year’s canvas.
Among Us characters were hidden across the canvas in plain sight, paralleling the imposter nature of the game.
Users exposed a Reddit admin for placing tiles without the cooldown timer.
In the final moments, the “French flag” community unsuccessfully rallied against trolls who wiped out drawings of the Eiffel Tower, the Lourve, Zidane, and other cultural icons.
Communities threw accusations at each other for using bot accounts to do their artwork.
Murals were made in tribute to famous icons such as Japanese-American voice actor Mako, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, Bodybuilder-YouTuber Zyzz, and Twitch streamer Rekful, to name a few. - via

What's of interest to us is the extent to which people (who have never met each other in real life) gather in virtually co-ordinated communities that they identify personally with, rally around symbols and elect to destroy the symbols of other communities in favour of their own symbolic dominance.

Where collaboration does succeed unhindered - something of value is created, but in the fighting, nothing is actually achieved other than disorder and chaos.

The ebb and flow of the event thanks to the time-lapse is also entertaining to watch.

At the end of the project the art work was destroyed by the facilitators - all that's left is the experience of the event and the story.