The Preservation of Favoured Traces

The Preservation of Favoured Traces is a new visualization work by Ben Fry that shows the evolution of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species over multiple editions.

Sayith Fry:

We often think of scientific ideas, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, as fixed notions that are accepted as finished. In fact, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species evolved over the course of several editions he wrote, edited, and updated during his lifetime. The first English edition was approximately 150,000 words and the sixth is a much larger 190,000 words. 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.

It is certainly and interesting meta-trip to see how the text that posited evolution itself evolve over time. Somewhere in here is a clever insight on memes in a Dawkins, as opposed to LOLcat, sense. However, this is also a beautiful visualization just to watch, as should be expected from one of Processing‘s co-creators.

Speaking of processing, if you are interested in learning more, and are the the SF Bay Area, be sure to check out the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts Processing workshop.


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