Alphabet Iteration

A typographic experiment.

typography, creative coding, print

People say dumb stuff all the time. Normally, you get to apologize, or hide under the covers until it blows over (though I recommend the former). Sometimes, the internet finds some dumb thing you said, decides you’re the devil incarnate, and destroys your life. One dumb remark, and it’s all gone. This project is an experiment to visually represent this phenomenon, how a few words can spiral everything out of control.

alphabet iteration poster alphabet iteration animated

The Situation

In December 2013, Justine Sacco—a senior director of corporate communications at IAC—made a mistake. Just before boarding a plane, she posted the following tweet:

”Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!“
— Justine Sacco (@JustinSacco) December 20, 2013

Sam Biddle, an employee at Gawker, happened on the Sacco’s tweet and shared it. With Biddle’s following, the tweet spread like wildfire, and Sacco was suddenly subject to hate-mail, threats and other forms of cyber-bullying. Within hours, thousands of people had seen and shared her tweet, but while all this was happening, Justine Sacco sat comfortably on a plane destined for South Africa, unaware her life was falling apart, unable to explain herself or apologize.

Using this case as an example, I applied a typographical distortion to the replies to Sam Biddles repost, in escalating iterations to emulate the procession of the event. The book is bound French-fold, with the original undistorted replies hidden in the page interiors.

Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book

The Tech

I scraped the comment replies from Bidle’s post using Javascript, writing them into a neatly organized JSON file. I brought the JSON file into Processsing, and from there wrote a script to create and export the whole book direct to PDF. The effect is a version of Conway’s ”Game of Life,“ modified to bleed out from the original text, masking it, and expanding until it takes up the whole page.

Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book Justine Sacco book


A dystopian illustrated art book.

illustration, print

Laurie Waxman

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