Art is a subjective matter; what one person loves, another will hate. Modern art typifies this, as some people don’t even consider the works put out by modern artists as art. I must admit some push the boundaries so much that the definition of the word becomes muddy and confused, but if one assumes everything can be art then the world becomes a more beautiful place.
With that in mind even those little doodles we all have a habit of creating mindlessly while doing other things can be classified as art. So maybe you should think twice before just casually tossing them in the bin. Perhaps they should exist somewhere, somehow for time immemorial. Perhaps in digital form alongside doodles from millions of other people.
This is where globalDoodle comes in. GlobalDoodle is an Australian initiative created and operated by Helmut Eder and Neil Domselaar. It’s essentially a huge piece of virtual paper which anyone, anywhere is welcome to scribble on. The page is 16 kilometers squared, which is rather larger than your average tabletop.
“It’s about getting everyone on the same page,” is the literal and figurative sentiment repeated everywhere across the site. And it’s a rather fitting soundbite. “The world’s largest communal artwork,” is also a claim bandied about on the site, but one that’s hard to doubt given the size of the page on which I, you, everybody we know, and everybody we don’t know is invited to graffiti on.
It’s really simple to get involved with globalDoodle. You visit the site, click on ‘Continue’, and agree to the simple terms and conditions (pictured above). You’re then taken to a random place on the globalDoodle page and invited to do whatever you want with it. As well as drawing you can also write messages. I was tempted to advertise MakeUseOf on there but that wouldn’t exactly be keeping in the spirit of the whole thing.
There is a slider on the left for zooming in and out of the page. Even zooming all the way out still only shows a tiny portion of the whole globalDoodle, but it’s fun to see just how expansive the 16 kilometers squared page is. There are still swathes of emptiness between the often-tiny doodles.
You start out with a blank canvas, on which you are invited to doodle. Hence the name of the site. Specific areas of the page cannot be doodled on ad nauseum. At a certain point they become frozen, effectively locking them as they are for ever more. This can even happen while you’re doodling, but you get a warning to try and finish up your current doodle before this lockdown occurs.
It should be noted that you cannot delete your doodles and nor can anyone else. So this isn’t a site for anyone who is anally retentive about what they contribute to communal efforts. Whatever mark you make on the page will remain there until the Internet collapses in on itself.
Alongside the blank canvas (or partially blank canvas if you’re placed on a part of the page where others have previously doodled) you have the ‘Menu’ immediately at your fingertips. This is your toolkit for doodling and for finding your way around the page. The ‘Menu’ can be hidden from view by clicking on the top right-hand corner.
You have some basic doodling tools at your disposal: Pencil, Pen (in black, blue, green, or red), and Highlighter (in blue, pink, or yellow). Beyond that you have various other options: you can create a temporary code for a specific location on the page, which means you can return to this location during the same session; you can tweet your location so others can join you for some co-operative doodling; you can use the mini-map to see where you are on the page relative to the edges.
You can also choose to be relocated to an empty part of the page or a partially filled part of the page. Or you can watch a slideshow of other people’s selected doodles. There is also the option to take a screenshot or visit the globalDoodle shop.
The globalDoodle shop is actually rather intriguing in its own right, as it allows anyone to create a t-shirt or canvas print with a part of the globalDoodle page on it. What part of the page is completely up to you, whether it’s a section you yourself doodled on, or a section you found aesthetically pleasing enough that you’d want it either featured on your chest or hanging on your wall.
I guess this article wouldn’t be complete without me showing a couple of the doodles I created on globalDoodle. They’re not brilliant, but then they were never meant to be. The inclusion of the nickname, incidentally, was just to prove these are all my own work. I was using a mouse but I can imagine getting better results by using a drawing tablet or a touchscreen and stylus combination. Still, everything is art, including these two ‘creations’. I think.
GlobalDoodle has actually been around for a while, but it’s still a gem hidden to most people. As with all crowd-sourced efforts the more people that get involved the better, so I’m hoping you will head over to the site and put your mark on the page. Literally. Let us know what you think, or even link to the part of the page featuring your creations, in the comments section below. Or read about eight more websites devoted to doodling.
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