The web looks synchronized, but it isn’t. Pages load half-a-second faster on one computer, a few hundred milliseconds slower on another. Even if you loaded up your Facebook page on two computers side-by-side, they’d both show up slightly out of sync with one another.
That means that no matter how connected the Internet makes you feel, we’re all still experiencing it at slightly different times. But click here, and you’ll see something unique on all the Internet: a cycle of colors, flashing across your screen. Regardless of what screen you’re viewing it on, or what your Internet connection speed is like, the color is always the same. It’s a shared moment.
Colorsinc was designed by Jared Pace and Joseph Chiocchi (also known as Yølk), who met at Chicago-based design studio Simple.Honest.Work. (They have both since moved on.) The website is dead simple: outside of some text explaining the site, it’s just a simple block of color that fills your browser window. The colors change from time to time, seemingly at random, but that’s where Colorsinc gets interesting. The colors on screen change when anyone, no matter what device they’re on, clicks or taps on his screen.
So load up the site on two separate devices, and click or tap. You’ll see the color on the screen change instantly on both devices simultaneously. That’s also true if two people are looking at the site from half the world away. “There’s a simple universality to colors that strikes us as really powerful,” Pace writes in an email. “Whenever you’re viewing it, someone else from across the universe could be changing what we’re seeing. That ability to synchronously communicate with each other, even as strangers, feels really exciting.”
According to Pace, the idea that led to Colorsinc was very different. Pace and Yølk originally wanted to create an art performance illuminated by audience members holding smart phones with a web address that provides a synced light show. That still might happen, but Colorsinc is more of a stress-test for how many participants can interact in synchronized real-time with one another on a single site.
And how many is that? Pace and Yølk admit they’re not sure, but they want to find out. “I’m really excited to see how many users this crazy thing can handle at one time,” Yølk laughs.
You can help Pace and Yølk stress-test the synchronicity of the web by clicking here.