/b/:LET THEM EAT MARBLE CAKE

We have become accustomed to thinking about 4Chan as the breeding ground for memes as well as shaping the associated cultural reactions to such memes. There are other implications to 4Chan beside the obvious pop culture reading….

Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America was published in the 1830s. A Frenchmen on a working visit to America, he preceptively and correctly outlined the shape of politics in the twentieth century. He predicted a global contest between Russia and America, Russia as a dictatorship, America as a democracy. American conquests, he said, were gained by the plowshare, those of Russia by the sword. Americans gave free scope to the people; Russia centralized all authority. he was  the greatest long-range political predictor in history .

"The answer is Anonymous. Their motto: We do not forgive. We do not forget. We are legion. Because none of us are as cruel as all of us. It is this last sentence that has put fear in all of the scared mothers, Republican senators, and religious officials. If users cannot be tracked and act as one, who is to be held accountable? The biggest problem with genuine internet terrorist threats is that no one person can be pinned down. This was a major issue during late 2006 when the NFL received bomb threats posted by Anonymous on The Friend Society and 4chan. Luckily the actual poster was tracked down, but the power of the group remains. There have been other serious threats made by the group, as well as social disobedience acts like countrywide spoiling of the Harry Potter ending on its release night."

He continues to evoke widespread interest and admiration partly because he’s so quotable -“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end”- but mainly because he seems to have understood the American future better than anyone else of his time and wrote much that still applies to American civilization.In particular his understanding of American identity, and the need an facility of change and reinvention as an ongoing and organic process. With social media, the use of avatars, and the fascinating inerest in the “anonymous” , de Toqueville’s analysis remains as pertinent and relevant as ever….

4chan would have little importance indeed if it was only responsible for the carefree actions of disturbed youths. However, it is much more than this. This is the main difference as to why 4chan succeeds where social networking sites, such as facebook and MySpace, fail to provide a decent example for cultural convergence. Both Facebook and MySpace attempt to use common culture to reach the lowest common denominator and facilitate communication. Both networks become a part of culture in their own right. However, neither creates culture. 4chan, on the other hand, is an imageboard. Every picture that comes through 4chan is a little bit of culture. This is not extraordinary in and of itself. What is impressive is the amount and the insidiousness of the things that do come out of 4chan. While it is nowhere near as large as Facebook (Alexa ranking of 5) or MySpace (Alexa ranking of 7), 4chan (Alexa ranking of 967) can produce so much of significance because it is essentially a medium for cultural convergence.

"However, cultural convergence does not equal cultural significance. Facebook is more significant than 4chan purely because of the sheer numbers that have enlisted with the former. 4chan, then is the power of the internet counterculture. It is culturally significant not because it is known, but because it is making itself known. In facebook, popular culture converges with people to facilitate communication and lower thresholds between people. In 4chan, popular culture is changes the users and is changed by them."

The internet, if using McLuhan’s “light bulb” analogy, is an empty medium without any context,  it has nonetheless created an infinity (theoretically?) amount of space for people to convey, deliver and manipulate the media in thousands of ways.How does 4chan fit into this? First, however, we need an overview of 4chan and what it is. As stated before, 4chan is an imageboard. It is simplistic in design and even more simplistic in nature – a user simply uploads a picture with a comment on the side. More users can reply to the initial post, creating a “thread.” Also notable is the fact that no user is required to post any identifying information. All users who choose to go incognito – which is basically everyone – are labeled as “Anonymous,” a now famous term for the people that frequent 4chan, especially the “Random” imageboard.( Jacob Zeile)

Kayne West. A Meme is born.Cyle gage: " My belief is that Anonymous enables a new level of creative freedom, since 4chan has amassed so much unique culture, arguably more than YTMND which is user-based. Regardless, the ability of anonymous posting has lead to an atmosphere of ageism, sexism, and racism. Generally speaking, 4chan is very crude, rude, and grotesque in nature. "

“Random,” more commonly referred by its notation “/b/,” is the most widely used section of 4chan and in many cases defines the entire site for outsiders. The nature of /b/ is anything that is lawful can and will be posted. The only specific rule on content is for child pornography and “anything that violates local or United States law” (4chan.org). This means that /b/ users are free to post graphic images of pornography, dead animals, sandwiches, derogatory statements and pictures of all kinds, and pictures of themselves in revealing positions. It is /b/, however, that is the greatest cultural watershed in 4chan, even to the rest of the world that does not regularly visit and as such as perhaps more cultural significance as an “export” of what America represents than the movie industry; an likely far more cutting-edge as a denominator and shaper of culture.
The Anonymous Effect – 4chan and Cultural Convergence 4chan.org has been heralded as “wretched hive of scum and villainy” by Time  magazine . The Wall Street Journal reports that 70,000 bans have been issued to users of the site in the past three years . Despite this,Time cites the imageboard 4chan as possibly the greatest hotspot for internet – and by partial proxy, popular – culture that exists. The question to the large corporation is how can they appropriate it, rip it off and run with the idea as money maker?
The question posed, then, is two-fold: what IS 4chan, and how does it achieves this remarkable duality – on one hand, many of the things that appear on 4chan are not fit for anyone, much less the minors who espouse the culture; however, 4chan indeed does create culture that is becoming widely accepted in internet culture, some of which has found it’s way into real life. The answer is simple
and broad. 4chan is quite possibly the best and truest example of cultural convergence to be found in American society, and it accomplishes this in three steps: the site creates and appeals to the lowest common denominator, users absorb and pool culture, and then they create the new common denominator by spawning new culture.

Laura Adams:One thing Hot Topic should keep in mind is that just because they don’t know who created Rage Guy, doesn’t mean he’s theirs to use for the taking without licensing. The person who created him still owns that copyright to the image. I hope he comes forward, with evidence that proves that he created that original cartoon with Rage Guy as the fourth panel in it. If he does, he can pwn Hot Topic hard for copyright infringement. Now that would be lulzy....

How is this possible? By this, experts like Henry Jenkins can assert that because there is just so many people with the ability to broadcast any information since the internet has given almost anybody a soapbox to screech from, our way of navigating through the crazy cat lady blogs to the information relevant to us is through our discussions and other people’s collective opinions. In comparison to McLuhan’s theories, instead of the medium largely dictating the contexts and legitimacy of information, Jenkins debates that now this is dictated by the collective intelligence by all dwellers of the internet. Culture is

seen as top-down and dictated by authoritative channels, but a  collective entrerprise,

Cole Stryker:Glenn Beck recently declared that 5,000 (no idea where that number is coming from) "hacktivists" (lol) are fomenting pinko revolution by hacking into the networks of those corporate entities who would disassociate themselves from Wikileaks. He quotes Coldblood, that geeky kid who appeared on Canadian TV last week, as a spokesperson for Anonymous. But, as I've explained, the 22-year old is no more a spokesman for Anonymous than your teenage son. Anonymous has no spokesman, no leadership, no structure. I would be surprised if a few dozen of them know how to hack anything, let alone 5,000. This is no cabal of Tyler Durdens. It's not an underground arm of socialist interest groups.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org  hosts  50 image posting message boards, The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate and both combined. Typically, the content featured is a NSFW intertextual gangbang of obscure references and in-jokes where images are created, remixed, popularized and forgotten about in a matter of hours. 4Chan keeps no permanent record of itself, making an in the moment experience the allure of participation. For all of the memes that have leaked into our inbox from it, 4Chan maintains a language, ethics and set of activities that would be incomprehensible to the unfamiliar viewer.

"...Bourriaud in his 2001 book, Postproduction. One of the unforeseen relationships he mentions is that of the contemporary artist and contributive internet surfer (the kind of Photoshop bandit you can find on /b/). Bourriaud understands each as methodological equals, calling them “semionauts”. He uses this term to define those who create pathways through culture by reorganizing history to bring forward new ideas...

When TIME Magazine offered 4Chan’s founder, m00t, as a candidate for 2009’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year online readership poll, /b/ wasted no time launching an attack to propel him to the top spot. The resulting campaign included likely thousands of participants’ manual labor, the creation and dispersion of sophisticated ballot-stuffing software programs and several strategic changes in online manipulation methods from March to April of 2009. m00t not only took first place, but all of the top 21 people listed in the poll were intentionally ordered in such a way that their first names spelled out a secret message: ‘mARBLE CAKE ALSO THE GAME’. ‘Marble cake’ is alternately described as the name of the chat room where the anti-Scientology raid Project Chanology was born, or as an unsanitary sex act. ‘The game’ is an inside joke that requires you to not utter or think of it to be able to win. You mostly likely just lost the game.

The mARBLE CAKE raid was an impulsive assembly of a group to simultaneously make reflexive commentary while literally revising who the public thought they voted to be the most powerful that year. The ranked influence of the names listed in the top 21 becomes subservient to the order of /b/’s encrypted message. This echoes the commonly launched criticism of TIME’s yearly “Influential” issue that many of the people included are merely entertaining figureheads or patsies who act at the behest of even more powerful, discrete interests. More specifically, the raid is a work of Relational Aesthetics. Just as the empty bottles left over from Rikrit Taravanija’s meals are later used as sculptures in their own right, the resulting alteration of TIME’s poll becomes a digital monument to /b/’s successfully group-orchestrated intervention. /b/’s influence on Time magazine’s website is the Relational given form through their own activity. ( artfagcity.com)

artfagcity:What we witness by looking at the mARBLE CAKE raid is the result of a group of computer programmers who used their knowledge to make a mockery of a flawed media structure without retaining individual credit for themselves. With this equally creditless result, I’m reminded of the symmetrical creativity Dominick Chen calls for in his essay Postchronist Manifestation. Chen situates Relational Aesthetics as the second to most current form of art making in history. The newest, he claims, is as-of-yet unmade, though differs from RA in that it is created and interpreted collectively without hierarchy. This ‘new’ form of art does not exist inside of traditional institutions and confronts the conditions of its participants’ lives within their own environment. What Chen describes is in fact Relational Aesthetics as ideally theorized by Bourriaud, highlighting the contradiction between the reality of RA’s art-star-filled, institutionally reified present incarnation and the hope for an emancipatory future inherent in RA’s theory. Chen calls this ‘new’ form of art ‘X’ but he might as well have named it /b/.

ADDENDUM:
“Despite Bourriaud’s interest in collaborative art making, his theory’s purest realization has been put on hold by institutions that must place emphasis on individual creators to maintain their financial well-being. While inside of a Liam Gillick exhibit, have you ever forgot that you were attending a Liam Gillick exhibit? I haven’t. Ending the viewer/creator dichotomy requires no less than the end of the art-star system and a participation format that makes room for the errors inherent in free will. In his essay Postchronist Manifestation, Dominick Chen states as long as there exists an asymmetry (or distance) between producer and receiver, the modality of cultural production would inevitably lead back to a religious power structure.

An art of Relational Aesthetics “far from the classical mythology of the solitary effort”would be anonymously produced and give all participants the greatest degree of choice possible when determining the course of their own experience.

It could be argued that the precursor, or one of them, to 4chan memes, is the culture jamming done by the Billboard Liberation Front and Ron English, except here the spreadability of the "jam" can be global.

———

“In a culture which some have described according to information overload, it is impossible for any one of us to hold all of the relevant pieces of information in our heads at the same time. Because there is more information out there on any given topic than we can store in our heads, there is an added incentive for us to talk amongst ourselves about the media we consume. This conversation creates buzz and accelerates the circulation of media content Consumption has become a collective process and that’s what I mean in this book by collective intelligence.” (Henry Jenkins)

Jude Sheerin:En masse, an army of cyber-pranksters swung into action and culprit Mary Bale was initially outed not by the forces of Fleet Street but by users of an online community. According to reports, they quickly established her identity, her workplace and her employer's phone number. Death threats and prank calls quickly followed. It was the latest headline-grabbing prank from 4chan, an iconoclastic US site that has given the world such web staples as lolcats and Rickrolling. It claims 22 million page impressions every day and 9.5 million unique users every month...

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