“The Preservation of Favoured Traces” [LINK]

Posted: February 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Open Source, Typography/Graphic Design, Writing | No Comments »


Fans of Darwin, the history of science, digital media studies, open source software, and electronic textual editing should take a look at Ben Fry’s fantastic animated text of On the Origin of Species, which accounts for textual changes across the six editions of the book that were published during Darwin’s life (from 1859 – 1872). The text was assembled using an open source animation program  called Processing. As Fry himself says, one big advantage of seeing the text evolve over several editions at once is the ability to illustrate shifts in Darwin’s scientific thinking, both large and small:

We often think of scientific ideas, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, as fixed notions that are accepted as finished. [...]  In the changes are refinements and shifts in ideas — whether increasing the weight of a statement, adding details, or even a change in the idea itself. [...] Using the six editions as a guide, we can see the unfolding and clarification of Darwin’s ideas as he sought to further develop his theory during his lifetime.
Link: On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces

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