Virtual tourists

Pixel Moon and the size of web pages

Pixel Moon is brilliant: It’s a web site that displays a moonscape where you can design your own moon base and add it to the landscape. So far, 78 people have created bases, many of which are quite hilarious — including a Vodafone kiosk and a shot of four Star Trek characters staring at something lying on the ground.

But to me, what’s really interesting is how big the page is. To see all of Pixel Moon’s surface, you have to scroll four screenfuls sideways, and several screenfuls down. I’ve always wondered why more web artists don’t take advantage of the almost-limitless size of a web page by creating digital art that spreads out to the left and right (and up) as well as down. Indeed, someone could create a web page that was, say, 14 feet wide and 15 feet tall, and then anchor the “opening” part of the page at dead center. When you first loaded the page, you’d start in the center of that massive terrain, and wander around like a voyager. That’s much the way many online “immersive world” video-games work: You arrive somewhere in the world, but can wander off in any direction for quite some distance. It gives a fun sense of scope and immensity to the virtual space.

Here’s an interesting question: What’s the “biggest” web page ever created? Has anyone ever seen a web page that was, like, 14 feet wide and 15 feet tall, in real dimensions?

(Thanks to Ratchet Up for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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