How evolution works, sometimes.

A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals is an online drawing tool that lets users do just one thing – trace a line. Each new user only sees the latest line drawn, and can therefore only trace this latest imperfect copy. As the line is reproduced over and over, it changes and evolves – kinks, trembling motions and errors are exaggerated through the process.*

Once an accidental feature shows up, subsequent tracers try to reproduce it like good little replicators. Eventually you get a dancing chihuahua.

A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals from clement valla on Vimeo.


  1. #1 The Phytophactor
    February 18, 2011

    That’s what my DNA feels like OK. Or else it’s just an aging back.

  2. #2 CherryBombSim
    February 18, 2011

    I know where this is headed, so I will say it is not biological evolution. It is cute, it is interesting, but resist the urge to draw an analogy with evolution, please. Reasoning by analogy is maybe the highest roadblock to understanding how evolution works.

  3. #3 franz dibbler
    February 18, 2011

    I think this explains the evolution of the bible.

  4. #4 Nemo
    February 18, 2011

    Neat. I see punctuated equilibrium! (Which basically means that most copiers try to be faithful, but every so often, someone really sloppy comes along, and that sends the drawing in a new direction.)

  5. #5 Raryn
    February 19, 2011

    Needs more selection.

  6. #6 Rick Pikul
    February 20, 2011

    Well, there was at least one person who decided to play silly buggers and simply ignored the previous drawing.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2011

    Cherry: Reasoning by analogy has its uses and is sometimes the only way to address certain questions, but more often analogy is useful for something other than reasoning: Making a point. And this does that.