4Chan's 'Moot' Laments The Death Of Internet Culture

Anonycat

Crusader
http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/12/18/4chans-moot-laments-the-death-of-internet-culture/

Over the last ten years, the term “Internet culture” has referred to communities of geeks and online pranksters, hacktivist warriors, hackers, trolls, creators of memes — and perhaps not very much at all.

This last description may now be the most accurate, as the Internet becomes a place that billions of people go to visit, not the haven for a geeky in-crowd that it was a little under a decade ago. (And it’s apparently being replaced by a parallel web of apps anyway).

Christopher “moot” Poole is something of a legend in Internet lore for creating one of the pillars of that once palpable culture: a website called 4chan, whose irreverent discussions spawned the subversive cyber movement Anonymous, and whose members like to do things like warping Time’s Person of the Year poll to rank Kim Jong Un at No. 1.

In an interview with Forbes, Poole said that Internet culture as he once knew it didn’t really exist anymore. “As online culture has moved offline, pop culture has moved online, they’ve met in the middle, and become the same thing now,” he said from the New York office of his media sharing site, Canvas.

There’s a problem with that, and the reason relates to a conference that wrapped up last Friday in sun-drenched Dubai. There, government delegates from around the world voted on a treaty that de facto sought to give the United Nations greater oversight of the Internet. It’s not legally binding, and doesn’t come into force till 2015, and thankfully some 80 countries refused to sign it. But proposing such a treaty on the world stage in itself marks another step towards stewardship of the Internet moving from engineers in technical standards organizations, to more government-related interests. Many fear that could open the door to more censorship, even a changing of DNS infrastructure. “I think that politicians enacting legislation that changes the fundamental underpinnings of the way the Internet works is very terrifying,” says Poole.

Five years ago, when Poole’s 4chan had spawned a new community of Internet activists called Anonymous, a conference like the one in Dubai might have provoked a more spirited response, such as mass digital protests, DDoS attacks on government websites, data thefts, hacks, maybe even street demonstrations. But this time around the dissent was, by comparison, smaller. A few hackers temporarily shut down UN-related websites, another group called TeamGhostShell hacked several high profile government organizations.

Overall, they did not cause a particularly dramatic, or long-running media stir. The digital attacks by Anonymous on PayPal in late 2010, aimed at avenging WikiLeaks, by contrast saw upwards of 7,800 volunteers jump into a single, public Internet Relay Chat channel to lend their support, and thousands of headlines. This time around, there was less noise from similar activists on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There was no dramatic boycott from sites like Reddit and Wikipedia, who went dark in January 2012 to protest proposed copyright laws put through Congress known as SOPA and PIPA.

Perhaps something happened in the last year or two. “People are fatigued,” said Poole. “Last year was really remarkable, but if [any other bill like] SOPA had come out six months later, would there have been the same response?” Poole believes that average users of the Internet also don’t have the same level of energy for activism that they did five or even two years ago, simply because there are too many of them.

In the mid-to-late-2000′s, it was easier to galvanize digital activists through online communities like 4chan and wider networks like Anonymous. As these communities have become bigger and more unwieldy, less exclusive, the more impassioned supporters for a free web are being drowned out by mainstream users who are not. As for any culture, the Internet is facing that longstanding problem of scale.

In 2008 when Anonymous began waging an online war against the church of Scientology that also included street protests, a well known meme emerged: a photo of Anonymous protestors wearing Guy Fawkes masks and holding signs with eclectic sayings on them, and the tagline, “Oh f***, the Internet is here.” Back then “the Internet” didn’t mean as many people as it meant today; its most prolific inhabitants were those of the early dial-up BBS days, those who frequented Usenet groups and eventually created tight-knit communities on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks. “It was just much more intimate back then,” said Poole. “People took a greater interest in how they were affected by things like [regulation].”

[Full article at link]
 

AnonKat

Crusader
http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/12/18/4chans-moot-laments-the-death-of-internet-culture/

Over the last ten years, the term “Internet culture” has referred to communities of geeks and online pranksters, hacktivist warriors, hackers, trolls, creators of memes — and perhaps not very much at all.

This last description may now be the most accurate, as the Internet becomes a place that billions of people go to visit, not the haven for a geeky in-crowd that it was a little under a decade ago. (And it’s apparently being replaced by a parallel web of apps anyway).

Christopher “moot” Poole is something of a legend in Internet lore for creating one of the pillars of that once palpable culture: a website called 4chan, whose irreverent discussions spawned the subversive cyber movement Anonymous, and whose members like to do things like warping Time’s Person of the Year poll to rank Kim Jong Un at No. 1.

In an interview with Forbes, Poole said that Internet culture as he once knew it didn’t really exist anymore. “As online culture has moved offline, pop culture has moved online, they’ve met in the middle, and become the same thing now,” he said from the New York office of his media sharing site, Canvas.

There’s a problem with that, and the reason relates to a conference that wrapped up last Friday in sun-drenched Dubai. There, government delegates from around the world voted on a treaty that de facto sought to give the United Nations greater oversight of the Internet. It’s not legally binding, and doesn’t come into force till 2015, and thankfully some 80 countries refused to sign it. But proposing such a treaty on the world stage in itself marks another step towards stewardship of the Internet moving from engineers in technical standards organizations, to more government-related interests. Many fear that could open the door to more censorship, even a changing of DNS infrastructure. “I think that politicians enacting legislation that changes the fundamental underpinnings of the way the Internet works is very terrifying,” says Poole.

Five years ago, when Poole’s 4chan had spawned a new community of Internet activists called Anonymous, a conference like the one in Dubai might have provoked a more spirited response, such as mass digital protests, DDoS attacks on government websites, data thefts, hacks, maybe even street demonstrations. But this time around the dissent was, by comparison, smaller. A few hackers temporarily shut down UN-related websites, another group called TeamGhostShell hacked several high profile government organizations.

Overall, they did not cause a particularly dramatic, or long-running media stir. The digital attacks by Anonymous on PayPal in late 2010, aimed at avenging WikiLeaks, by contrast saw upwards of 7,800 volunteers jump into a single, public Internet Relay Chat channel to lend their support, and thousands of headlines. This time around, there was less noise from similar activists on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There was no dramatic boycott from sites like Reddit and Wikipedia, who went dark in January 2012 to protest proposed copyright laws put through Congress known as SOPA and PIPA.

Perhaps something happened in the last year or two. “People are fatigued,” said Poole. “Last year was really remarkable, but if [any other bill like] SOPA had come out six months later, would there have been the same response?” Poole believes that average users of the Internet also don’t have the same level of energy for activism that they did five or even two years ago, simply because there are too many of them.

In the mid-to-late-2000′s, it was easier to galvanize digital activists through online communities like 4chan and wider networks like Anonymous. As these communities have become bigger and more unwieldy, less exclusive, the more impassioned supporters for a free web are being drowned out by mainstream users who are not. As for any culture, the Internet is facing that longstanding problem of scale.

In 2008 when Anonymous began waging an online war against the church of Scientology that also included street protests, a well known meme emerged: a photo of Anonymous protestors wearing Guy Fawkes masks and holding signs with eclectic sayings on them, and the tagline, “Oh f***, the Internet is here.” Back then “the Internet” didn’t mean as many people as it meant today; its most prolific inhabitants were those of the early dial-up BBS days, those who frequented Usenet groups and eventually created tight-knit communities on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks. “It was just much more intimate back then,” said Poole. “People took a greater interest in how they were affected by things like [regulation].”

[Full article at link]

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