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MIT paper: "4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community"

Stashed in: Hackers!, Reddit!, Teh Internets, Identity, Sexism, Awesome!, History of Tech!, 4chan, That's racist!

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http://people.csail.mit.edu/msbernst/papers/4chan-icwsm2011.pdf

The paper uses data gathered from 4chan's /b/ message board over a 2-week period to do a statistical analysis of average thread life with respect to the time of day at which it was posted, with lots of other fascinating observations scattered throughout.

It's actually quite interesting to read a scholar's description of 4chan culture:

/b/’s content is frequently intentionally offensive, with little held sacred. There is racist, sexist, homophobic language, groups are often referred to using a “fag” suffix (e.g., new members are “newfags”, British users are “britfags”), and a common response to any self-shot picture by a woman is “tits or GTFO” (post a topless photo or get the f*** out). This language is part of the group identity: pushing the bounds of propriety in order to “hack the attention economy” and turn heads (boyd 2010b). While the content on /b/ can be offensive, it can also be funny, open, and creative, as its creation and promotion of numerous memes attests to.

Could this study be scientific evidence in favor of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory?

The link sited in the excerpt above is a good read in its own right: “for the lolz”: 4chan is hacking the attention economy.

One interesting quote from the article:

"I would argue that 4chan is ground zero of a new generation of hackers – those who are bent on hacking the attention economy."

What's interesting to me is that that kind of hacking can be used for good, for bad, or for just being mischievous for its own sake.

Hackers make moral and ethical decisions regularly; they cannot be judged just from the term hacker.

Out of the swamp that is 4 chan, two groups of hackers emerged. The first, anonymous, practiced hacktivism, using DDoS attacks against numerous targets such as Iran, the Church of Scientology and Amazon.com.

Lulzsec, on the other hand, are pranksters happy just to take down random sites for lulz. Lulzsec has been on the rampage, taking down the CIA website to win a twitter flame war while picking another fight with 4chan despite past associations.

4chan users are out to take down Lulzsec any way they can. Will the hackers of Lulzsec be applying their computer skills elsewhere soon?

Source: NMA World Edition

I'm in ur academiez, trolling ur scientific methodz.

Anonymous, but not ephemeral. One out of two ain't bad.

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