A recent parody on baxil's journal is an example. It's something expressive that takes a life of its own because it is a public form of communication and people feel inclined to contribute, whether they realize what they're doing or not. It's a thing that grows, with more and more people influencing it, turning it into an almost-sentient congealed collaborative pile of thought- of many thoughts. It's an amoebic prism of expression, converting the plain into the exotic- people taking just a bit of time to add just a bit of stuff, and with enough people, it abruptly takes form and grows from there.
It might be interesting to full-on deliberately try this, but it would take an inordinate amount of work to set up and would naturally require a massive user base. Pure collaborative art: a blank canvas, say 300x300 pixels. Each person is allowed to change the color of only n pixels, where n = 5 for P >= 25,, and n = 55 - 2P for P < 25. P represents the number of people who have contributed so far. Or maybe that should be n per week or something, although the limit stays at five once the system has given the picture a chance to get underway.
Something like this would require thousands of users- but it would be interesting to see what happens. Maybe one web site dedicated to this, everybody gets a login, and there are many of these going on at once, of varying sizes, alternate properties, etc.?
A similar experiment would be poetry, with each person adding only a single character. What I don't like about that is that unlike a small number of pixels, it's easy to sabotage a poem with a single letter- but then who's to say it wouldn't be interesting? A similar thing would be a person gets to change one character in an 80x25 field of Courier New text or something, but any character, and freely. That might be more interesting.
The more I think about it, the more I want it to happen, but I don't know the programming, don't have the right sort of webspace, don't really have the time to do it, and definitely don't have the publicity. What needs to happen is that the idea gets kicked around- growing and shrinking and morphing and pulsating like any other piece of collaborative art- until someone, or some set of someones, who can do it, does it. I'd just like to know.
I can think of all sorts of problems, of course; the most obvious one is horde sabotage in which a malicious website directs a large brace of users to try to screw up the whatever in a particular way- and enough people can do the damage. I simultaeously want a control against that and don't- if there are no measures availible, this disaster scenario will most certainly take place, but if it's there, what's to decide when it should be used? A violation of the natural evolution of the piece? Smaller-scale collusion would also violate the nature of what I'm trying to do- the idea is the result is a conglomeration of thought residue, not something shaped sharply and directly by clusters of individuals. Every piece will shape the work, and every pixel has the possibility to change a direction- but I don't think I want to have a group of people going in, deciding "This is the poem we're going to write," or "This is the block we're going to draw;" I'd like to let it just happen. Like good theatric improvisation.
Music. That would be another interesting application of this, but a much more difficult one to conceptualize or implement.
This whole projectideathing strikes me as something that really should exist, but would be inordinately difficult to create and maintain...