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Grid World (miller.garden)
623 points by tobr 54 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 94 comments

Wow, the visuals in this are truly extraordinary and unique. I have never encountered anything quite like this before. I felt compelled to list the things that struck me the most:

- Beautiful, poetic prose on a subject that resonates deeply with me

- Just about as light on bandwidth as you can be, fully embracing the default system font stack while maintaining an attractive appearance

- Seamless functionality on iOS Safari and Firefox on Windows

- Highly engaging links (the Roman pictographs were particularly fascinating!)

- Exquisitely handcrafted artisanal HTML/JS/CSS, reminiscent of Bartosz Ciechanowski's work

I can't say I would change even a single thing. One might argue about the Google Tags import, but this minor "sin" is easily forgiven due to the exceptional mastery of web design and development displayed here, I can't blame you at all for wanting analytics on visitors. This website meets every criterion of my personal "gold standard" for websites, and I can be pretty fussy having done a fair share of frontend stuff myself.

Recently I've been working on a page for a personal project, aiming to achieve a similar level of quality but it can sometimes be challenging to perfect the visual design aspects especially. This website serves as great inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing this!

I’m eating like an absolute king the past two days what with Ciechanowski’s post yesterday and now your fine specimen. The web sometimes feels like wading through a sewer but on occasion you strike gold and it makes everything feel OK.

I recently started a new blog / personal site, replacing an old Jekyll blog I hadn't touched since 2016. This time I decided to just write plain old HTML, with the minor concession of using Tailwind for styling because I wanted to learn it.

It's been wildly fun, and using plain HTML has made the site really flexible and fun to develop in a way that static site generators never were. As an example, today I wanted to add a small footer to a code sample to link back to the originating commit on GitHub, and it was just a div, a, and span away. No bullshit, just put the elements there and all of a sudden it's on the screen!

Another benefit has been just getting more familiar with HTML and CSS instead of letting a framework do the heavy lifting. Since restarting my site, I've felt a lot more confident when sitting down to write templated html or a react component or whatever during my day job.

I totally share your enthusiasm for this link, and find the site incredibly inspirational - this is exactly the kind of digital garden I hope my site can become. Mine is a little more sterile at the moment, but the beauty of each page being static HTML instead of a rendering of some template is that the style can evolve over time, and I'll be able to go back to old posts and see them in their original state.

The internet is still fun!

How are you doing tailwind with static html? If you are looking for a solution check out twind with the “shim” as a cdn import.

I'm using the standalone Tailwind CLI, which means I don't need to have any trace of node in my repo. It has a watch mode which I run while coding - that makes sure that any new Tailwind CSS directives I add to source code get added to the site CSS file.

Overall it's a really nice workflow, and doesn't feel overly invasive, or overly divergent from the point of writing the site in plain HTML. I really like Tailwind - it feels similar enough to writing vanilla CSS but has some guardrails and affordances for responsiveness that I think make it well worth the small extra setup.

I've just been adding Tailwind classes inline on elements thus far, although I'm starting to repeat myself enough that I'll probably make some custom classes with the @apply directive soon.

Overall really enjoying it!

The graphics make me want to play Return of the Obra Dinn again. Love that style.

I’m more reminded of Proteus (2013).

I got thrown out partway down on my iPhone because the background jumped from grey to white as I scrolled down, then back to grey. After spending a few minutes trying to work out what the setting was on my oh one and realising it was some JavaScript on the site I gave up.

The canvas element seems to be handled like HDR video at certain points down the page. I think it's a browser/iPhone oddity more than anything intentional by the author.

I'm only seeing plain text and offsite links, then gaps where I assume there might be images? I've turned off ad/script blocking, but still nothing. Chrome/OSX. What am I missing?

Turn off Dark Reader; make sure WebGL is working (chrome://gpu/)

Ohhhh... So I was definitely missing something ahaha. I thought it was just a very beautiful text (it did resonate with me, the part about hours spent drawing fictional maps on graph paper).

On a related note, I've been obsessed recently with grid cities. Queens, New York in particular flummoxes me. Locally every point conforms to a grid, but globally they don't all conform to the same grid. Brooklyn is comparatively easy as it consists of 4-6 large grid areas stitched together (depending how much slight bending you forgive). Big swaths of Queens like Astoria and everywhere north of Queens Blvd are also simple enough. But that region from the border with Brooklyn I just can't ever seem to summarize succinctly.

Any pattern that might form gets interrupted by either a cemetery, a park, train tracks, and in some cases (I've found out) former train tracks that were ripped out 100 years ago. I've considered theories like the streets being radially biased towards important junctions like Jamaica / Flushing. I've considered outlining major obstructions to see if those are the source of borders. I've looked around for the master plan on street numbering in Queens to no avail. This should be easy, like Manhattan Queens has numbered streets. It conforms to an approximate grid, yet no one ever plots out exactly what this grid is and where the defects in it occur.


I've always been very impressed with Seattle's relative rigor when it comes to the grid. True, the grid has one very strange aspect that's hard for newcomers to understand: it's actually nine separate grids[1], eight of which have directional qualifiers (NW, N, NE, etc) with the unqualified one covering downtown as the origin of the whole system. But most of the city and surrounding areas are pretty well committed to this grid, to the point that entire other cities are built off this "downtown seattle is the grid origin" concept (e.g. the city of Shoreline to the north starts at 145th and goes up from there). And further to the north, there's a repeat of this grid system centered on the city of Everett and extending into its surrounding cities.

One other aspect I find fascinating about Seattle's system is that there's some redundancy built into the address specification: whether the street is oriented north-south or east-west is not only indicated by whether it's an Ave (N-S) or a Street (E-W), but whether the grid qualifier is specified as a prefix or a suffix. So when you find a partial address on some album art [2], for example, you can deduce that "4718 38NE" is talking about 4718 38th Ave NE and not 4718 NE 38th St.

[1] theoretically nine grids, anyway. As an example, I'm not sure if there's actually an "E" grid. The central grid goes all the way to the water on the east, and when continued on the other side of the lake in Bellevue, the NE and SE grids touch each other.

[2] https://musicbrainz.org/release/36fab830-fc17-48d7-9d7e-194f...

I love navigating around Seattle so much. The grid does take a few jumps, NE 85th St in Seattle doesn't exactly line up with NE 85th St in Kirkland, (travelling straight across the lake, NE 70th St in Seattle lines up with NE 85th St in Kirkland), but in general if given an address (the first 2 or 3 digits of a house's number indicate cross street) you can navigate to almost anyplace in King County with just a compass.

FWIW there are neighborhoods that are E. The CD, Madison Valley, basically everything south of 520 until Yesler.

You also didn't mention that part of the city grid is on a 45 degree slant due to the city founders not being able to agree which grid system to use. :)

Amusingly, much of that other Kings County (Brooklyn NY) is also 45 degrees offset from the major grid orientation.

You're looking at the remnants of what used to be a bunch of unconnected Dutch settlements. New York (formerly New Amsterdam), Brooklyn, Flushing and Harlem are all named after their original Dutch counterparts, Amsterdam, Breukelen, Vlissingen and Haarlem respectively. And there is Coney Island (Konijnen eiland) and Staten Island (named after the Staten Generaal, a Dutch government body).

Once NYC expanded and engulfed all of those separate settlements the grids ended up merging and some of the connecting roads and railroads between the settlements were incorporated into the city.

Yeah I know the history. But believe it or not those grids are easy. You can make all the grids of Brooklyn out of like 6 Jigsaw pieces. There's a directly south portion that leads to the lettered Ave's all the way to CI, a "Manhattan South" portion that hugs the coast, a "Carnarsie South" portion that hugs the coast East of Coney Island, Bushwick Cheese slice, and Williamsburg offset from there. Easy Pz. The grids of Queens north of the subway are also pretty easy to split into a manageable number of jigsaw pieces, namely Astoria (follows Manhattan convention), everywhere East of LGA up to and including Flushing (true north). Its the border zone between BK and Queens that just refuses to admit a nice, simple, summary pattern. Pretty much everywhere due East of Newton Creek and/or along the lower Montauk is a mess.

Most likely this is because that particular region either had unfortunate geographical components or because the settlements there were much smaller and therefore not nicely aligned. You see a very similar thing if you look at the map of Amsterdam. The bigger developments are all nice and orderly and result in clearly recognizable patterns, but whenever the 'new' butted into the old it becomes messy.

Quite a few small towns found themselves suddenly as components of Amsterdam after being engulfed. New York in a way is relatively orderly because all of that happened in a short time.

It's fascinating stuff. Good luck with your search, I'm curious if you ever will find out what caused it.

I've looked at some really old maps. Like this one from 1853 [1]. So for starters, the Long Island Railroad is apparently eternal as its nearly impossible to find a map which pre-dates it, the modern subway lines bare remarkable resemblance to the former "plank roads", and above all the regions that I'm finding most difficult to reconcile are actually younger not older than the other grids that have been stitched together.

This helpful tool [2] highlights what I mean. Zoom out and look around, its mostly consistent large jigsaw pieces. There's just this one turbulent maelstrom in the middle that ruins the idea of several grids glued.

1. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804n.la002117/?r=0.197,0.358,... 2. http://www.datapointed.net/visualizations/maps/enhanced-stre...

Could it have been some large company that held the land and put their own buildings on it? There are some regions around here that are as large as the cities they border but are private land, Hoogovens (now Tata Steel) in IJmuiden is one of those and near Rotterdam there is 'Pernis'. Inside those it is a huge jumble. Other options: swamp land, native American settlements, army installations. Bushwick loosely translated is 'Boswijk' aka forest borough, so the area may have been heavily forested. The roads there may then have been logging roads rather than roads for regular traffic.

>Could it have been some large company that held the land and put their own buildings on it?

Coincidentally that describes an area a bit north of where I'm focusing called "Rego park". Where does the name Rego come from? Was it what the Native Americans called it before the settlers arrived? Was it the name of some important person in history? Nope. None of those. The company that developed the area was called "Real Good Realty". Rego is a contraction of REal GOod. Yep, its that stupid. But Rego Park is still grid conforming.

There's a bunch of strangely curving streets a bit East of Rego Park in a crescent shape starting at 63rd St. Those are bending around the (now abandon and overgrown) tracks of the LIRR Far Rockaway branch. That line continues straight South exactly tangent to the curve. There's a few other places on the map where long gone rail lines influenced streets, but those mostly form minor exceptions to grid rules rather than full on dissolution.

You're right Bushwick was absolutely Forrest from what I've read. But Bushwick itself is actually pretty grid conforming. Its approximately rectangular and slightly rotated relative to Bedstuy on its left side. The difficult parts start just above Bushwick. Namely around Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle village.

Queens is unusual in the sense of having developed incredibly recently. Like literally farm land as recently as the 50s in some parts. Logically it should be the most conforming to the overall street plans, yet it isn't. Yeah there's natural borders like those cemeteries, but if it had streets running along the edges of the cemeteries the result would be a square layout leading exactly to a grid! Its almost like someone went out of their way to avoid making sense!

BTW since you're interested there's quite a few place names you missed in NYC where the influence of the Dutch settlers can be seen. New Utrecht Ave, Dyker Heights, Stupyen Duvil, Yonkers, Van Ness, Van Wyck...probably more but those are the ones I can think of off hand. There's also the flag of the city [1] which still has the blue-white-orange banner of the Dutch crown (albeit vertical rather than horizontal). I've been told in recent times that particular tri-color pattern has an unfortunate association with far right political movements. Is it true?

1. https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/images/u/us-nyc15-l.gif

> New Utrecht Ave, Dyker Heights, Stupyen Duvil, Yonkers, Van Ness, Van Wyck...

I'm aware of them, just figured the point had been made. There are indeed quite a lot more of them if you know how to look for them. The degree to which they have been bastardized sometimes makes it harder to spot them.

> There's also the flag of the city [1] which still has the blue-white-orange banner of the Dutch crown (albeit vertical rather than horizontal). I've been told in recent times that particular tri-color pattern has an unfortunate association with far right political movements.

The 'Prinsenvlag' (the non rotated version) is indeed associated with the NSB, the Dutch Nationalist Socialist Movement which during World War II made nice with the Nazis and whose name is pretty much synonymous with 'traitor'. In more recent times it has been associated with the PVV another right wing party with nationalist tendencies.

If you zoom it it gets less neat. In the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area you can see 5 different grids. All of them historically from different settlements.

Williamsburg/Greenpoint is several pizza slices of grid arranged in a semicircle around a common corner. Sure its 5 minor grids but its still very much a simple pattern to summarize

There's a bit of history between the current state and the original Dutch settlements.

Unlike Brooklyn, which was its own independent city for a while before merging into New York City, Queens was a county consisting of several distinct towns. So for example Flushing and Long Island city were two separate municipalities. It's not too surprising that they were developed differently.

What I think is more fascinating is just how enormous Queens actually is. I've always wanted to learn more about why it seemed like a good idea to unify such a large area into one physical city. Same goes for Staten Island. Would be really interesting to read some primary sources from the time.

The major impetus for unification was the promise to build the subway. Manhattan had the money but needed the land, Brooklyn and Queens had land but not the wealth.

Once upon a time Flushing was hyper religious Quakers. When the NY & Flushing RR was built (today the Port Washington branch of LIRR), one of the anecdotes in its history was the moral outcry when they tried to run a single train per day on Sunday. They appointed actual fun police to make sure no rowdy drunkards would dare come to their town hoping to have a good time. What do they think this is, Brooklyn? LIC was literally built by and for the railroads. Before the tunnels into Manhattan (1906 IIRC), you would get off the LIRR (or other competing services which were later bought out) and switch to a ferry to cross the East river at Hunters Point. LIC was always de facto colonization by Manhattanites.

> Once upon a time Flushing was hyper religious Quakers.

That's not surprising given that the town of Vlissingen that it is named after in NL is also in part of what is called the Dutch Bible Belt. Zeeland has a very strong religious tradition, even today. Likely those that came to America and named their town Flushing (likely phonetically much closer to Vlissingen in those days) were from there.

On a related note, lots of businesses on Manhattan still don't get it. They advertise their location as something like: 58th St 369

instead of saying: 58th St 369 btw. 6th and 7th Av

It would be so much easier for their customers to reach them if they stated between which streets, or which avenues their particular street-number is located.

I don't get it why they don't get it.

I'm with you 1,000%.

Yes I know there are formulas you can memorize to figure out cross streets but you're a business, you're supposed to be trying to make this easy for me.

If you're located on a grid and you advertise an address without giving cross streets, I guess you don't actually want my business.

"True" New Yorkers seem to have memorized which numbers are between which numbered Avenues --- at least my son has done this since moving there first for college, then a job.

This is one of those 90/10 rule things where just learning a post-it note worth of trivia covers you for over 90% of instances. I'm sure he's competent at navigating especially in the ordinary places reachable by ordinary subway ride. The corner that flummoxes me is that inexplicable void in the map. The big empty part of the subway system sandwiched between the EFMR and JMZ lines. That curious combination of Newton Creek, Highland park, an archipelago of like a dozen large cemeteries, more than a few heavy industrial zones, and freight rail tracks. I've seen parts of the map in this no mans land where numbered Ave's just straight up skip over a half dozen other numbers which I know exist elsewhere on the map. However the grid was zippered together, there is a seam in it and this is it.

There is actually an official algorithm for estimating the cross streets given any address within the Manhattan grid. I don't know if it still is, but it used to be published in fine print on bus system maps. It's a little too complicated to memorize, but you could easily keep it on a note card in your wallet and do the calculations in your head or with your phone calculator.

Right. Manhattan grid. That's easy. I'm talking about the grid in Queens. In particular the middle of Queens. It becomes extremely non-grid conforming in a way a calculator rule can't fix.

I can do this in Amsterdam as well, but there it is a lot more complicated, especially on the canals. But I usually can aim for the right block just knowing the house number, and even/odd says which side of the street or canal to be on.

New York is simpler because it is the New Amsterdam, or Amsterdam 2.0

Aren't addresses in Manhattan mostly east or west of 5th Ave, each avenue incrementing by 100? Meaning 369W is between 8th and 9th, while 369E between 2nd and 1st?

Building numbers ascend in the same direction as streets / avenues and usually the hundreds digit is incremented at the corner so that building 369 is (ideally) between 3rd and 4th. Something similar to that. Double check me on this. Its been a while but the relation between building number and location on the grid is def linear.

I just wonder if engineers could come up with a simpler scheme, when you already have such a great grid on Manhattan.

Avoiding Google Maps for any reason ?

That would mean turning my phone on, right?

Much of NYC started off as small, independent towns and villages with their own grids. Bushwick. Williamsburg. Flushing. Their grid were determined by things like angle of the coast, internal geographic features, or just random chance. As they grew, they grew together and fused as best they could.

Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Flushing all conform to a reasonably sized jigsaw piece of locally consistent grid. Bushwick is a Cheese wedge between Fulton and Broadway. Williamsburg is approximately several (smaller) pizza slices with the crust along the coast line. Flushing is basically true north/south grid.

Large fractions of Brooklyn and Queens are consistent-enough to approximate most of the landmass as perhaps a dozen jig saw pieces. Nothing you said is news to me. But this border area, primarily Ridgewood and Maspeth, it refuses to be consistent enough to draw a jigsaw piece over it.

See also: Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian, one of his several grid-like paintings, this one clearly inspired by Manhattan: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Piet_Mon...

This is The Thing about Manhattan: it’s a very rigorous grid (except for some parts below Houston) but then it has this big diagonal — but irregular — gash across the grid. Manhattan without the grid would be London or Lisbon or any other Old World river city warren; the grid gives it its New World power. But without Broadway, it would be boring.

If only Detroit had stuck with Augustus Woodward's hexagonal grid plan.

In Utah we use blocks from Main Street and State Street (to really over simplify). So, I live at 4475 W and 5500 S. Which is to say that I’m about 45 blocks West of Main Street and 55 blocks South of State street.

State and Main run parallel to each other (in SLC at least). The zero point for north/south in SLC is S Temple, not State.

Interesting read. It makes me think when I was at school all the other children were seemingly obsessed with grid paper, using it for every class, writing all notes only on grid paper. Grid paper was also the most available and most normal paper at our schools.

In contrast to the other children and in contrast to the author of this text, grid paper wasn’t inviting for me, instead it was feeling like oppressively giving me direction that I don’t want. I would ignore the grid and see the grid as something like dirt on the paper. Only a bit later I discovered that I could buy smooth and dense note paper that was completely blank. Ever since then I mostly use 100 g/m2 white A4 paper; rarely also A5.

I love the liberating feel of white paper. After a few years I even learned how to write justified text on blank white paper, it feels very satisfying.

I like both, but they lead to very different thinking patterns. Hand me blank paper for a grid paper problem or vice versa and it doesn't work. Likewise, the size has to be right - big for brainstorming or free-thinking creative thought and small for bringing order to a chaotic mess.

I found a happy medium with dot-grid notebooks. The dots are faint enough that you can ignore them and treat parts of the page like a blank sheet while using other parts for organized lines or sections.

I love dot grid too!

I also like the ability to change papers in Goodnote when I'm working digitally. Using dot or grid for layout and then switching to plain so it looks clean = YES.

> After a few years I even learned how to write justified text on blank white paper, it feels very satisfying.

Neat! How do you justify text by hand as you go?

As soon as I’m getting closer to the right hand margin I know which words I will put down next and I know how wide every letter is that I write, then I adjust the words and the spaces such that I end on a word border or syllable border.

If it’s a word border it’s already justified, if it’s a syllable border I hyphenate. My hyphens and punctuation marks I leave purposely outside of my justification margin, I like that presentation.

I can do it with text widths as wide or narrow I want.

Sometimes I just know what the layout is going to look like and adjust my margins and spaces accordingly, kind of like in a LaTeX document.

What a beautiful(ly told/written) story/experience. Love how the visuals interact artistically with the writing. Can totally understand the fascination with grids, although it came to me much later in life (as I child, grids felt too constraining to me and school reinforced that impression unfortunately).

> “I think we project grids outwards onto the world from within ourselves, shining their structure from our minds. We radiate grids.”

I don’t know if the author is aware of this, but neuroscientists discovered what they call “grid cells”: “a type of neuron within the entorhinal cortex that fires at regular intervals as an animal navigates an open area, allowing it to understand its position in space by storing and integrating information about location, distance, and direction.” [1]

I believe grid cells, together with place cells [2] may explain a lot about not only how we make use of diagrammatic tools but also how we form and navigate our more abstract conceptual spaces. For anyone interested, I recommend this great article on Quanta: https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-brain-maps-out-ideas-and-...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_cell [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_cell

Author here. Thanks for the kind words and the note about grid cells. That is fascinating.

That was a breath of fresh air! Also, the notes page warmed my heart. [0] Such a shame that digital gardening hasn't really taken off that much. Scrolling through some of the posts there feels in such a stark contrast with most of present day internet. Just putting stuff up on a webpage for yourself, not an audience you're trying to work.

Bring back the nooks and crannies of the olden days! old man shakes fist

[0] https://alex.miller.garden/notes/

I'm with you about small pages/personal sites! It makes the internet feel so much more lively and cozy to have these small, quiet spaces.

"That place has a name, space, and it is measured, quantified, and standardized by the grid, tamed by its regular meter. No nook or cranny of nature is safe from this blanket of rationalization, stretching to cover the entire Earth in a global-scale grid of longitude and latitude. "

Perhaps it may be worth mentioning there's another space of thought that critiques the rationalization, such as books like 'Descartes Error' and the whole systems-thinking space (e.g. folks like Fritjof Capra) and possibly the Complexity Science space.

Hi there, author here. By telling the personal story of how I inherited the rationality meme, I hoped to offer my own critique of rationality. I intended for the sentences you quoted to imply a subtle darkness to rationality, with phrases like "tamed" and "no nook or cranny of nature is safe." Maybe those aspects were too subtle. But just wanted to clarify!

Thanks for the clarification! Yeah, definitely felt a hint of the subtle darkness trying to be expressed.

Nah, it came through just fine. Pretty sure just about no-one would write those things that way any time halfway recently without intending it to be a bit tongue-in-cheek or ironic.

Very good article! I really like the animations, too. Monochrome pixel art will always resonate with me.

The writing in the article felt poetic to me, well done:

> "and I dreamed that the grid was the understructure to not just my own memories but to the world"

As an aside, and not at all to detract from the story: I find it interesting that Myst wasn't universally loved. I remember in some "gamer" circles it wasn't considered a real game but an interactive slideshow.

Back when Myst came out casual gaming was almost non existent, and I wouldn't even consider Myst to be a casual game per se. I still remember being blown away by the graphics and the moodiness of exploring that barren island. The graphics were of course all prerendered, but you could enjoy the fact that some computer, somewhere, had generated them. Advanced 3D rendering was so novel (in early 90s). You couldn't get scenery like that on an SNES or a Genesis or any of the game consoles available at the time. None of the game consoles could even take advantage of 3D. And this game was novel enough and easy enough to navigate that it sold a crazy amount of copies to almost anyone with a home PC and a CD-ROM drive. The PC itself hadn't fully saturated the US yet.

It was also interesting in that the game just sort of left you to explore the island, and paired with a good soundtrack of moody music, it was legitimately fun.

> I remember in some "gamer" circles it wasn't considered a real game but an interactive slideshow.

I always wondered how those people would categorize, for example, the Zork games. Myst is interactive fiction, which is its own genre. The disdain for Myst reminds me somewhat of the disdain for things like The Sims (which for some reason never extends to the types of simulation games that 'gamers' like such as SimCity, Cities:Skylines, RCT, etc.).

Good point.

But consider this: in the Halcyon Days book of interviews with veteran game designers (like Dani Bunten, Chris Crawford and other trailblazers) at least one mentions disliking Myst: Eugene Jarvis (of Robotron fame). He considers Myst one of those style over substance and no action games (the other game he dislikes is Wing Commander!).

I remember a similar debate in my circle, that Myst was (unlike Zork) all style over substance. Remember that the graphics back then were really impressive.

In my opinion, there's no doubt Myst is a real game.

I remember Myst's release and how awesome those graphics were. (It wasn't particularly my thing, but my mom was really into it and into IF in general. She's a puzzle game person. My dad was more the 'conventional' gamer.) The graphics were neat, although the traveling was annoying. I can see valid reasons for critiquing and disliking Myst (and Riven) and I can definitely see why Jarvis in particular would bounce off both Myst and Wing Commander. But most of the shit talking was not as well thought out as I imagine Jarvis's to be.

Also now I want to know Eugene Jarvis's opinion of The Stanley Parable. :)

> Monochrome pixel art

Scroll all the way down for a lovely surprise.

So beautiful and creative and human and touching. So perfect a creation from the child of a “Myst” co-creator. Made me a little envious of that upbringing tbh.

HN needs spoiler tags, haha. I'm glad I went to the article first because I feel like the "Myst" reveal at the end was a little twist.

Oh what an interesting post. The visuals are great, and through the paragraphs I was reminded of one of my first video games (At the first mention of Hyper Card I guess). And then in the second to last paragraph it just whacked me over the head with "my dad and his brother created a computer game called Myst" as I realised just which Alexander Miller this was.

Lovely story, well written and the artwork sparked joy. Beautiful observations about grids - never thought about them in that way, but so relatable.

A great reminder of the fundamental pleasures of imagining and creating. Easy to forget after following those affinities far into a career.

Thank you for sharing, really brightened up my day.

I used to run cellular automata manually on graph paper. There's still a sheet on my dad's fridge, though the ink has faded from UV exposure.

In high school I got half of my class to procedurally generate dungeon maps using simple rules and neighbouring cell populations.

Example ruleset:

    - Rooms are rectangles 3 to 6 cells large in either direction. Place them randomly with a gap of 1 cell until there are no more valid room locations.
    - If a cell is between two rooms, and has a cell between the same two rooms on either side of the cross axis between the rooms, then it can be a door, but only if there is no door connecting this pair of rooms yet.
    - If an empty cell is in a corner, and there is a door 2 less than 2 cells away from it, then it is a torch.
    - If an empty cell has 2 cells distance to any walls, then it is a table(-like decoration).
    - If an empty cell is directly adjacent to a table-like decoration, it has a 50% chance of being a seat;
This will generate a lot of dimly lit mess halls, but the actual rulesets would be larger and evolve through time, we would start anew once someone made too many mistakes.

What a delight. Nice work.

At one point in time I had a fascination with hexagonal grids. I made little library for drawing them on the html canvas, and then made clones of a few hex based games, worked on various “game of life” variants in hex land. I also wrote about a hex based spreadsheet concept and a few other people got quite into the idea.

I tinkered with other grid systems and tiling systems, too — there are some fascinating irregular five sided systems etc.

At the start of that exploration I think some part of my head held that the square co-ordinate systems were “basic” … beneath me … too simple. But what I kept coming back to was a realisation that the square grid wasn’t just easier to program in, it was better, it was just the most “correct” way to pack the plane, in some indescribblable way, when working in 2 dimensions.

If you’re tired of square grids, you’re tired of 2D life.

> If you’re tired of square grids, you’re tired of 2D life.

Lovely use of this famous aphorism.

This sort of thing is what the internet was made for. What a beautiful piece of art.

I love those visuals.

Lovely page.

It made me remember my endless efforts as a kid to digitize photos by tracing them on graph paper, and then grouping 3x2 pixels into blocks that could be represented by the Teletext character set, for display on the Philips P2000T. Each block had a character code that I soon learned by heart, not knowing at that time that they had a logical binary representation.

I spent days on end typing those codes in many lines of BASIC, with the end result being a slideshow of 80x72 "pixels", green on black background. I didn't know about pixels or scanners, I was just being obsessed with finishing the picture to move on to the next one. Fond memories, and a great waste of time.

Beautiful article, both in text and in visuals.

> Then my grid-vision exploded outwards from this center, enveloping everything, and I dreamed that the grid was the understructure to not just my own memories but to the world. I think we project grids outwards onto the world from within ourselves, shining their structure from our minds.

This paragraph instantly let me think of the theory of Lattice QCD [0] where both space and time get discretised in a lattice to be able to simulate and make predictions on processes happening on the subatomic level.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattice_QCD

What stack was used to make this? I cracked devtools but couldn't find any obvious fingerprints, and `bundle.js` is a only 12kb! 0_0;

This is a masterpiece. Good writing, good graphics, good coding. Totalkunst in the wagnerian sense

Thank you! I used plain javascript without any libraries — firstly to keep the file size low, and secondly as a fun technical exercise.

It’s amazing knowing that one can produce things of this caliber without an internet connection at all. No dependencies required!

As a kid my friend and I would walk to the corner shop just to buy individual sheets of A3 grid paper to take home and draw maps on just as something to do.



The next-to-last visual reminds me of these "brain mazes" a childhood friend would make. If you read this, hello M. Coxson!

What a pleasure to read a well written article with great visuals and no adverts, no cookie banners, no invitations to sign in or subscribe. It was this as much as the beautiful visuals which made the article really stand out. The thought that the rest of the web could be like this makes me sad.

This is a very good read, and I love the interstitial animations.

My introduction to grids wasn't as overt as the author's, but I remember my bedroom being full of graph paper when I was designing sprites for my ZX Spectrum games back in the 80s.

The graph paper says: you can make your own icons, too.

OS/2 had a simple raster icon designer that you could use to create your own icon bitmaps and use them at various points in your workspace.

But the grid isn’t some kind of natural thing. It is just a convenient idea we come up with. The author makes it sound like all of nature abides by the grid, pointing to longitude and latitude. To me this seems like someone getting so over excited by their tools that they can’t resist constructing some kind of religious ideology around it. It’s really not that big of a deal, it’s just a basic tool. Stop freaking out over basic things. Let the mundane be mundane, and if your life is so devoid of the supramundane that you need to make a coordinate grid your supramundane, then you should really reconsider how you’re viewing things

Reading posts like this makes me quite sad

Did anyone notice the comment in the HTML of the page inside the <html> tag?

This is awesome! The other works on the main page are also inspiring. Almost makes me believe in color again (I am a monochromist).

Oh I see... so scroll hijacking on a webpage is only ok when it's something nerds like /s

I wouldn't even call this scroll-jacking. It doesn't overtake the position I've scrolled to/want to scroll to, nor send things in a different direction than expected.

In short, yes.

When something is a work of art or an "exhibit", I accept things which I otherwise wouldn't. So a generalist blog hijacking scroll is jarring, but one about exploring art forms isn't (or not necessarily, at least).

I'm willing to give this one a free pass because I enjoyed it. Sorry if it sounds like circular reasoning.

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