Darwin's Evolving Thoughts
September 5, 2009 10:37 PM   Subscribe

The Preservation of Favoured Traces: a visualization of Charles Darwin's edits and additions to On the Origin of Species over the course of six editions. (via)

Created using Processing.
posted by brundlefly (6 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"Darwin waited 20 years before writing this book, you can wait a minute for it to download". Amusing.

This is an interesting idea... it's a shame that the interface is really hard to use.
posted by WhySharksMatter at 10:45 PM on September 5, 2009

Many people suppose that Darwin created On the Origin of Species. Others believe it evolved.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the Variorum Reprint of the Origin of Species, a labor of love that was made in 1959 by Morse Peckham. He aqcuired two copies of each edition, and then proceeded to cut them up into little bits of text, pasting them back together to create a text showing all the changes made.
It's really wonderful, but ever so difficult to read. I'll need to get a normal edition to finally finish reading the 'Origin'.
posted by LVdB at 3:13 AM on September 6, 2009

By Ben Fry. Previous MeFi love for Ben: Proce55ing, Processing, Zip Codes, Media Lab work, Streets. (Not a callout, I'm just a fan of his work.)
posted by Nelson at 7:28 AM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

This is several different kinds of awesome, in a state of superposition.
posted by Alterscape at 8:11 PM on September 6, 2009

This is a great idea. However, it's difficult to use. And it crashes my Firefox. I'd love to see the main changes documented in something I can actually read.

I am told, for example, that the word "evolution" is not used until the 6th edition.

I'm also told that he begins to emphasise a creator more in later editions, to appease his critics. I like this line, delivered after explaining the basic elements of evolution:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

Also, Stefanie Posavec has a very similar project on-going in collaboration with folk at Microsoft Research (she mentions Ben Fry).
posted by jonesor at 7:05 AM on September 7, 2009

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