you know them: they are the online versions of the internet’s public subconscious that are eating our spare hours each time we are foolish enough to visit them. also, they are apparently in some kind of current war with each other…
4chan was created in 2003 and it was originally meant to host a manga/anime forum like the japanese 2channel, but later degenerated into an uncensored meltdown of sick humour, hardcore penetration, japanese culture galore and pretty much everything else one can imagine. it is 4chan that gave birth to the omnipresent memes and to the whole vocabulary of stereotypes we use online nowadays.
9gag was created in hong kong, in 2008, is hosted in the us and mostly recycles internet content. the main difference between the two is that the latter asks its users to register in order to be able to contribute to the communal flow as long as 4chan demands the anonymity of its users (click here to see 4chan father christopher moot poole talk on ted about the pros and cons of having the freedom of online anonymity in a world where freedom is increasingly hard to come by).
apparently, 9gag polarized the hate of purists for being more mainstream, less creative and less free. it is indeed the nearly 1 million subscribers watered-down, pg13 colouring book to 4chan’s 10 million unique visitors per month spontaneous otaku/porn/funny zine.
but 9gag is only the most famous overnight 4chan-recycling sensation. another 4chan baby, the lolcats and their lolspeak, were capitalized on by icanhascheeseburger. created in 2007 by a couple of bloggers, it flourished into a never ending series of spin off sites that morph depending on what’s trending (we all know the fail blog, engrish funny or the recent purchase, know your meme, which includes about 500 confirmed meme entries)
another similar website, reddit, was founded in 2005 by two 22 year old americans. it was sold to conde nast in 2006 but it has become operationally independent in september 2011, acting as a separate subsidiary.
regardless of the source, the stream-of-consciousness posts are a treasure for advertising people as they coin key words and they identify or even create trends before they become a real world concept.
with a short life span, the ideas are toyed around with and chucked at light speed. they mirror the real world with its best and worst features. what did internet wisdom taught us so far? first and foremost, there’s a lot of hate out there aimed at justin bieber. and then, in no particular order: chuck norris is the highest standard. putin’s total number of 140% votes was featured in an equal number of posts. the arrow to the knee joke got old really fast. the fragility and short battery life of the smartphones is compared to the virtually immortal nokias (although or perhaps especially because, ironically, the brand is currently re-organizing exactly due to the fact that it missed getting on the smartphone band wagon in time…) we all barf rainbows when faced with cuteness and we do realize that the ultimate benchmark is the asian level. we all waste hours browsing away and then we roll our eyes back when seeing the numberless reposts on our walls…
no, seriously, stop re-posting!