Harder Better Faster Stronger
4chan is a little stuck in web 1.0. Like Craigslist and even Ebay, its interface has been paused in the mid-aughts, making navigation a little less than intuitive. But that could change very soon. After returning to the fold to introduce a Q&A feature last month, 4chan ombudsman moot (nee Chris Poole) announced on the site’s blog today that he is releasing a read-only JSON API.
Mr. Poole said that 1.5 percent of 4chan’s traffic comes from extensions and third party apps, but those apps work primarily by parsing HTML. By releasing a JSON API, developers can begin to build third party clients–both mobile and desktop–that provide a more optimal 4chan reading experience and ostensibly run much faster than their HTML brethren. (Read-only means that developers can harness the API to allow users to read content from 4chan, but not allow them to post through third party apps.)
On May 15, 2007, a then-19-year-old YouTube user named Shawn Cotter–employing the handle “cotter548”–uploaded the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” intending to troll some of his fellow gaming cohorts on 4chan. Mr. Cotter, who was serving in the Air Force in South Korea at the time, linked to the video under the pretense that it was a new trailer for Grand Theft Auto: IV. But as that now-familiar drum cadence faded in and the caption “You just got Rickroll’d” floated across the screen, users discovered they weren’t watching a video game trailer at all.
The digital bait-and-switch of Rickrolling was born, and 4chan was not amused.
4chan is either the beginning or the end of the Internet, depending on who you ask. The beginning camp points out that so much of the content on Reddit and Buzzfeed originated in 4chan’s message boards. The end of days camp merely shakes their head and points to /b/.
The polarizing message board clocked its billionth post today, prompting Moot (née Christopher Poole), to post a news update to 4chan for the first time since 2008. The fearless leader of the original meme factory, who can occasionally be seen at parties around town clutching his backpack, offered some insight about the changes over the last four years. He also announced a new recurring feature that would allow 4chan users to engage in a more direct dialog with him.
ALL YOUR MEME BELONG TO US
Canvas members received a celebratory email in their inbox this morning. The image-driven social website celebrated its first birthday this week, as well as its one millionth post. As a sign the startup is all growns up, Canvas also announced that you no longer have to use Facebook to sign up. Email notifications “when someone replies or remixes one of your posts” are also now enabled, which should encourage users to visit the site.
When Christopher Poole, the fair-haired boy prince of meme land, first founded Canvas, it sounded like purposeful departure from his first startup, 4chan. Instead of the malwebolence of the /b/ boards, users were asked to “Keep it safe for work | Don’t be mean | Stay on topic.” That may have helped the startup pick up $3.63 million in funding, but it yielded mixed results, at first. (Nazi necrophilia, anyone?)
But that appears to have changed.
Where do you go from a headline like that. Seriously, my career as a tech blogger really feels like it was all leading up to writing something so simultaneously shocking and banal.
If you haven’t been among the lucky ones (Betabeat demands to know why we were overlooked), Facebook users have been complaining that horrific, violent pornography has been appearing their feeds. With the new timeline feature just released, users were understandably confused about where this imagery was coming from. Repressed memories, perhaps? “I noticed Facebook porn in my friend feed. New feature? No. A Facebook ‘virus’ shows hardcore porn and violent,” tweeted Christopher Justice, a CEO of an Austin-based online design firm.
Mr. Justice deserves justice, and Facebook is going to give it to him. ZDNET’s “Friending Facebook” blog updated their story this afternoon with the social network’s response. “Facebook has revealed the huge flood of links, videos, and images depicting pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality, on the site is the result of a coordinated spam attack.
The Internet Makes You Mean
4Chan, the image board created by New York’s Chris “Moot” Poole when he was just 15, has gone on to generate some of the funniest memes and most destructive communities on the internet. Last year he launched a new startup, Canvas, which tried to recreate the viral language of creating and sharing images without the filth of 4chan. The startup, which has raised more than $3.6 million so far from top flight VCs and angels, opened up to the public today.
Canvas insisted during its private beta that users log in with Facebook Connect and posted a simple set of rules: “Keep it safe for work | Don’t be mean | Stay on topic.” It banned sexually provocative content, hate speech and insults. The rules seems to be working … sort of.
The Third Degree
The idea behind The Daily Dot, a new website that just emerged from invite-only private beta today, sounds like a great premise for an infographic. “Day-to-day coverage will focus on ‘neighborhoods.’ Sites like Reddit, like Digg and like Etsy are really like cities. And the web is like a large country of itself,” founding editor Owen Thomas told his former colleagues at VentureBeat. It’s easy enough to picture an illustrator going to town with a map of the internet and Etsy’s cutesy, cuddly cul-de-sac next to 4Chan’s lawless urban sprawl.
But is it enough to carry an entire newspaper?
Friends In High Places
Rocker, motivational speaker and Twitter personality Andrew W.K. is a longtime friend of 4chan ever since the remixologists of /b/ meme-ified his song “Party Hard.” The rocker has appeared in live chats with 4channers and hit up the Williamsburg night life with 4chan founder Chris “Moot” Poole. Brand boosting all around! Now Mr. W.K. is venturing into Moot’s new site, the image editor-based forum Canv.as.
On a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon, a group of young men gathered in a dance studio in midtown overlooking Eighth Avenue. The room, oddly but appropriately, smelled faintly of hay.
A grand piano had been pushed to the wall to accommodate a series of folding tables, and a fan was rotating lazily, attempting to combat the 98-degree heat. At the door, a volunteer handed out raffle tickets and solicited pizza preferences for lunch. The guests—mostly in their 20s and overwhelmingly in favor of facial hair and cargo shorts—milled around, but no one strayed far from a table at the front of the room, which was covered end-to-end with My Little Pony merchandise.
Lording over the spread of glittering pastel wares was a stocky man with graying hair and glasses who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a pink pony and the words “HATERS GONNA HATE.” Hello, his name tag read, My name is Cupcakes.
Welcome to the world of the Bronies.
Can I See Your ID
Google+ and Facebook are pushing users to use their real names everywhere on the web for their convenience and the convenience of the owners of the sites they’re browsing. The trend has clearly been a boon for sites like the Huffington Post, which can get 11,000 comments rife with inanity and raciscm on a single politics story. But we’re starting to get real pushback from–more than just 4chan’s Chris Poole–as more sites force users to comment using their real identities. After Google+ pissed a bunch of people off by deleting profiles that didn’t use real names, Google’s vp of product, Bradley Horowitz, announced today that users can now list “other names” on their Google+ profile and be found by search that way.