A font created by the hive-mind
September 23, 2002 7:52 AM   Subscribe

A font created by the hive-mind and other excersises of the mob.
posted by pedantic (16 comments total)
I first saw this on boing-boing, a site soon to have its own brand of honey since anything tagged "hive" gets big play.

Truth is, there's a difference between the complex interaction of simultaneous forces, and simple voting. This font thing is hardly "hive-mind."
posted by Ayn Marx at 8:05 AM on September 23, 2002

Now I can use my democratic privilege to mutate the written language into a form recognizable only by myself! <laugh class="evil">Ha ha ha ha!</laugh>
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2002

It's not really a collective consciousness, but it is interesting watching the letters evolve out of randomness. It'd be interesting to repeat the experiment without visual feedback. If the hoards were asked to make a given pixel black or white without knowledge of the surrounding pixels what would the result be?

I think for simple letters, such as an O, you'd see a concentration of dark pixels in the appropriate spaces but there'd be an area of decreasing darkness rather than hard boundaries. More complicated letters, such as W, wouldn't ever be anything more than random noise.

Even with visual feedback W seems to be having problems.

The whole hive mind concept appeals to me (as an observer, not a participant) but I don't know that it's really workable. You'd have to be able to suppress too many human emotions and instincts to ever truly reach a consensus on anything much more complicated than a true/false statement.
posted by substrate at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2002

Someone's generated some astonishingly sharp thumbnails of the font so far.
posted by Kevan at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2002

How is this not a hive-mind? I understand how it is not a collective consciousness. Isn't the strong dictating force the goal of creating a letter? It seems very top-down to me.
posted by pedantic at 9:02 AM on September 23, 2002

Then you could argue that any election is a hive mind, the strong dictating force is electing a leader, passing a bylaw or finding the next superstar on Fox.
posted by substrate at 9:45 AM on September 23, 2002

although those thumbnails do look somewhat like swarms of bees...
posted by gravelshoes at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2002

Sadly the create a picture hives work less well. On the whole, an addictive, fun time waster for all the typo freaks out there (like me).
posted by dash_slot- at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2002

One thing I noticed about the create-a-picture hives, though - a few of them (the more concrete ones especially, like "goat" and "house") actually stabilized nicely into quasi-recognizable pictures somewhere in their history (take a look at the animated "goat")... and then blew up into clouds of dust. What happened? Did a lot of people suddenly decide to be uncooperative and wreak havoc on the images?
posted by wanderingmind at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2002

substrate, isn't that what a hive-mind is? Thousands of beings working on a common goal which in turn is a fierce intelligence? The idea behind a democratic government is very much that.
posted by pedantic at 11:07 AM on September 23, 2002

I've seen this link a couple times, but in the past couple days the letters have really taken shape. Slightly impressive.
posted by redsparkler at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2002

The difference between an election and a hive mind is the tight feedback cycle between individual decisions and the group result. Four-year election cycles are too slow to give that impression of a group intention.

Although you could argue that daily media polls create that kind of feedback. The last election certainly oscillated back and forth in the polls before converging on a dead heat for election day. An animation of a color coded state-by-state daily election poll map might wind up looking a lot like the animations on the site. "The collective consciousness is attempting to create a picture of a divided and apathetic country."
posted by fuzz at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2002

The hive mind concept typically refers to beings with local knowledge acting on their local environment in such a way that a kind of intelligence emerges when iterated over all the local actors. The actors are unaware of global goals and in no way act consciously towards them. In nature, those actors whose local actions best contribute to those global effects that best support the local actors will be selected for. (Rather, they will not be selected against.)

This site demonstrates collaboration, not emergent intelligence. Everyone knows the high level goal and works directly towards it.
posted by badstone at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2002

I think it's a fascinating experiment. I've nicknamed it "am I font or not?"

One issue is that every letter occupies the same amount of space. Not to say you can't make a monospace font, but it makes wider letters like "m" or "w" more difficult to squeeze in.

I find it interesting that in the absence of guidelines (both literal and figurative) people have chosen to make each letter use up the whole grid as opposed to having "proper" proportions.
posted by O9scar at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2002

fuzz and badstone, thanks for the clarification. So is MeFi a hive-mind? We're all actors in this local environment...yet there could be something grandoise going on and we just don't know it. ;)
posted by pedantic at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2002

Cute, but where's the link to download it as a ttf?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:50 PM on September 23, 2002

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