Friday, December 17, 2010

BallDroppings and The Google Chrome Experiment

BallDroppings (2003) by artist/designer Josh Nimoy.
As seen on

All but the least attentive net users will have heard of Google's proprietary browser ChromeLaunched in 2008 and already the third most popular web-browser, Google Chrome claims enhanced speed, versatility and security, amongst other dull and generic boasts. It seems another web-browser, much like Safari or Internet Explorer.

As with all things Google, one can be certain that if given a whirl Chrome would surely offer irresistible utility coupled with a mechanized disregard for the rights of the private individual. El Tarangu has yet to trial Chrome, having read enough sci-fi to be skeptical of a corporation that drives around in a van spying on peopleAccusations of corporate villainy aside, when Google released a decent sized chunk of its source code to the open source movement it consciously enabled folks at home to develop new software for their inter webz.

This may at first sound like so much shop-talk but it has thrown open the door for The Google Chrome Experiments. The project rounds up, vets and showcases what they call 'creative web experiments' or software engineered by third-party users - and Google's own crack development squads - using the Google Chrome platform. To put it simply, it is akin to the web developers Flickr: designers submit functional,  often ingenious pieces web programming, and the Google Chrome Experiment puts them on display. This image tarnished slightly by the small print declaring Google itself the daddy of the project.

The Google Chrome Experiment describes these projects as 'some beautiful, magical, crazy' and in many ways I would agree. Of course, the software varies in quality and focus, ranging from simple and derivative games, to what could be the squeals of a new-born Art-chimera, and thus the article finally turns to more familiar and rather more right-brained topics.

El Tarangu came across Google Chrome Experiment via user JTNimoy's experiment BallDroppings. In a laundry list of inspired work for any number of large corporations, the sardonic JTNimoy describes BallDroppings as his 'most contagious meme' that he created in 'one night of idle programming that blew up unexpectedly into a web phenomenon.' 

A simple and addictive program in which users draw lines under a continuous stream of falling white balls, upon which the balls will bounce as determined by the 'gravity' of the program. As they bounce new lines can be made, thus directing and bouncing the ball around the screen. And, crucially depending on where the line is drawn the ball's 'bounce' sound out a different frequency and tone. It is simple and ingenious; a basic 'video game' premise that allows users to make electronic music (of sorts). It is at once a meditative and an infuriating experience, and headphones are recommended if living with anyone but a saint.

If Web 2.0 marked the advent of bilateral interaction with the net through the homogenizing lens of developers such as facebook and the dreaded twitter, El Tarangu ponders whether this is the early rumblings of a Web 3.0?

Users are creating not only the content but the apparatus through which and by which the content is guided and disseminated. Moving our stand-point as net users from mere viewers to users to the architects of the web itself. Supposing these tools and functions are adopted with sufficient gusto, El Tarangu is tempted to forecast that user-generated programs such as those seen on the Google Chrome Experiment could become to the 'YouTube video' of the future. 

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