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License: Creative Commons

Electric Sheep was first released by Scott Draves in 1999 to realise "the collective dream of sleeping computers all over the Internet". Electric Sheep uses grid computing techniques to render fractal flames by assigning work units based on random numbers to individual machines participating in the project. Each node uploads its completed work unit to a central server that assembles the units in sequence before making the fully grown Sheep available to the rest of the network. At the same time as it uploads completed work units, a node will download a completed sheep from the server. Given sufficient bandwidth, a participating node operating in Xscreensaver mode will always display the latest sheep to join the family.

The sheep are distributed between nodes in plain mpeg format and are playable in any normal media player. Although each sheep varies dramatically, many sheep are full smoky, ethereal twisted shards best described by Scott as fractal flames. They are generated by mathematics beyond most mortal comprehension and require todays desktop supercomputers to crunch through the arduous task of predicting where the flame will lie in the next frame.

Scott Draves used renders from the Electric Sheep project (whos individual licenses are Creative Commons by extension of the parent project) as a component in his 2004 DVD, Spotworks. Spotworks demonstrates Draves' cutting edge visualisation engines as components in vj mixes that sync to some of the most cutting edge electronik muzik produced in recent years.

There was some confusion in 2002 when the electricsheep.org domain expired and was taken over by another company who turned it into a news portal for technology issues. After many complaints by the electricsheep community, the squatters returned ownership of electricsheep.org to Scott and renamed their site to electrik-sheep.

Electric Sheep is written in C and is available on the Linux and Windows platforms, although it has been known to compile and work under FreeBSD and MacOS X. It probably can be easily ported to anything that runs X11 and has a working installation of the Gnu Compiler Collection. The CVS tree is hosted on Sourceforge.


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