Watch The Alphabet Get Giffy With These Animated Line Drawings

Print will not die, but the web can do lots of things that paper just plain can't. Like Anitype, a very literal interpretation of that ol' revolutionary concept of moveable type. The online project invites coding-inclined folks to animate the alphabet using JavaScript, then post their entries on the site to create a massive, growing collection of unique letters and numbers that twist, shiver, bounce, and flex.

Watch The Alphabet Get Giffy With These Animated Line Drawings

Clicking through the user-generated entries on the site shows how much personality can be imbued in a series of thin black lines on a plain white background. It seems almost tailor-made for kids: String them together in sentences, paragraphs, and stories, and it could be like something out of a trippy Disney film, where the words you're reading suddenly become alive like characters in the narrative. Think of them as hieroGIFs.

Distracting, sure, but also surprising and engaging and playful and pretty fun. (I'm fond of this 2 that turns into a love heart, and strangely entranced by this almost unrecognizable asterisk.)

Watch The Alphabet Get Giffy With These Animated Line Drawings

The experiment reminded me of Laika, an interactive font programmed to respond in real time to all kinds of inputs and stimulation—everything from a computer mouse on a screen to a guy walking by a wall projection to, somehow, the circadian rhythm of a geranium (!). It was created a few years ago by Nicolas Kunz and Michael Flücklger to capitalize on the endless potential of digital tech when it comes to how and what we read. It's pretty exciting to see designers break free from the idea that reading online has to offer the same experience as reading in print. [The Creators Project]