Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Time: the Epic XKCD Movie (!!)

Most of you who read this website are probably fans of the webcomic XKCD by Randall Munroe. If you aren’t… well, you really should be. It’s an &uumlber-smart, geeky, and at times remarkably profound comic whose simplistic art style belies its depth.

Anyhoo, a fascinating and somewhat-secret thing happened at XKCD over the past few months. Back sometime in the Spring, a comic called “Time” was posted. It was pretty innocuous; just a drawing of two people sitting on the ground. Like this:

XKCD Time Frame 1

“Time” Drawing by Randall Munroe.

And if you (like me) simply looked at it and moved on, you would have (like me) missed something pretty fascinating. You see, without telling anyone, Munroe set that page of XKCD to update with a new drawing at least once every hour. For months.

It ended up telling, one picture at a time, a complete and fascinating story about naiveté, discovery, science, and courage. It lasted more than 3,000 drawings, finally ending only a couple of weeks ago.

Thankfully for those of us who were blissfully unaware of what was going on, many enterprising and clever people did catch on. They made forums to discuss what was slowly unfolding. And thankfully, they archived it. Over at Geekwagon it was archived in such a way that you can watch it frame-by-frame and it’ll automatically pause on frames that have been deemed important by the community.

Another person edited it all together and put it up on YouTube for you to watch. It’s over 40 minutes long (though sometimes you’ll have to manually pause on dialogue frames in order to read them).

That’s right. It’s an XKCD MOVIE.

I’ve used this word before, but here it is again: it’s fascinating. There are many unfolding clues as it goes on as to the kind of world in which this story takes place. I first heard about this project from Phil Plait (over at Bad Astronomy), who actually helped a little bit with the science of the story. Watch it first before you read that article, though (spoiler alert).

I’m super happy that I learned about this movie. I love stuff like this. You should, too.

Categories: Cartoons, Videos.

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