Remember when screensavers were cool? If you’re an old-timer, you just thought of flying toasters.

This article describes an intriguing screensaver project. The “Electric Sheep” project distributes art for a screensaver running on computers around the world – and maintains a relationship with those computers continuously. Your computer obtains new art while the screensaver is running, and your computer does some of the work required to render new art for other computers. The software is free and man, the images are just gorgeous. (Disclaimer: I don’t have any information about privacy issues, which should always be on your mind when you install software that communicates with third parties. There may be some firewall issues – the program uses BitTorrent and you might have to open up some firewall ports or configure it to avoid BitTorrent before it will work properly.)

If you like this sort of thing, also take a look at G-Force, which integrates with your music software or runs as a screensaver. It is simply stunning, and has the advantage of being integrated so images react to the music that’s playing. It’s a long-time favorite.

(You never download free programs from unknown sources, right? If you’re feeling frivolous, I grant you permission to download this one, the original Electric Sheep. It’s a single small file – put it on your desktop and click on it. It was originally designed for Windows 3.1 but it still works on most systems and to the best of my knowledge it does no harm. I love my electric sheep.)

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