Voice Card  -  Volume 32  -  John Card Number 6  -  Mon, Jul 11, 1994 11:47 PM

Here is another is my series of EXCLUSIVE Archipelago sneak peaks at upcoming WIRED Magazines reviews. And this installment comes with a FREE set of zipples (see accompanying gift card):


During a recent netsurfing expedition, I mistyped a file search and came up with some kind of microscopic movie-like thing, uploaded by a twelve-year-old, which described itself as a zipple. When I entered keyword "zipple" into the search engine I was buried in an avalanche of over 400 different zipples, with more being uploaded every day.

Zipples, it turns out, are to graphic arts what haiku is to poetry: a color animation so tiny it can frolic on a Macintosh menubar. And, thanks to an irresistible interface from shareware author Christopher Suley, zipples are so easy to make that even the graphically inept can go into the cartoon business.

But what kind of movies can you make on a canvas one fourth the size of an icon? The best zipples are simple: a lava lamp, a spinning Coke can, a continuously sprouting Chia pet. All sorts of unspeakable things can be made to happen to the current application logos that live in menubars: Photoshop now winks at me and my America Online symbol morphs into a dollar sign, sprouts wings, and flies away. No cultural icon is safe from the zipple onslaught: Gumby, PacMan, even the Mona Lisa has been zippled.

Special effects? Morphing, aerial shots, spurting gore - you name it. Comedy? Suspense? Current events? Within hours of O.J. Simpson's televised car chase a "Juice on the Loose" zipple was cruising the infobahn. Nature documentaries? By the dozen! Do you enjoy the life cycle of the butterfly or are you more of a Jacques Costeau type? Need a drink? If the hundred bottles of beer flick doesn't satisfy you, try Andrew Lenzer's Perpetual Latte Machine.

The zipple is more than an artform. It's a social phenomenon. Zipple artists (ziptists?) are not driven by dreams of wealth or glory. The medium is too small to support such vanities. All a ziptist wants to do is to create a spark and send it upward into the night for all to see. The resulting bonfire of spontaneous creativity is a wonder to behold.