Thursday, 15 March 2012

Iz bin reedin a book about lolCatz & Anonymous /b/

If this title gave you ‘lolz’ you probably already have a good idea of where I’m going with this.
If you haven’t a clue what I’m havering on about... well take a deep breath and prepare to enter the internets underbelly, the err nether-regions that are 4chan and its ilk.
The book is called ‘Epic Win for Anonymous, How 4chan's army conquered the web.’ and it does indeed heavily refer to the lolCats phenomenon, especially in the opening chapters. But its main thrust is in poking around in 4chan and its history, as well as seeing what Anonymous things can be stirred up... Yes, that’s definitely, or defiantly, anonymous with a capital ‘A.’

The book is actually fairly heavy reading in parts. It doesn’t help that it starts of by attempting to explain memes, and Internet memes in particular (very basically, memes are self replicating ‘viral’ ideas), although I can see why the author thought it important to explain this before entering the main focus of the book. This isn't an exposay of the Anonymous group, nor is it the steriotypical rant about 4chan filth, but it isn't trying to suger-coat or defend anything ether. It's a decent propper open-minden and informed look at the culutre and history behind the modern on-line world of 4cahn and Anonymous. It is amed at 'normal' people who may have only ever heard the explotative rants in the press, there is another, different, story to be told and I think this book makes a decent and unbias attempt at telling it.

So what has all this got to do with computer games you ask?
Well not a lot directly, but the book got me thinking about the internet’s influence on games and the current games industry, and it’s sub cultures. There are a lot of hacker types in 4chan... No, I don’t mean what you are probably thinking (although they undoubtedly are also there). Good old-fashioned ‘hackers’ are codies at heart, programmers that do what they do because they like it. And nowadays they are unfortunately becoming dying breed.
Mixed in amongst the legions of angst-ridden teenagers, cam-girls, and general shock-merchants are the uber-savvy indi-programmers and general computer geeks of yester-year and tomorrow.
Wading through the trash (and there’s plenty of it) often results in the odd peek into this underbelly of the underbelly, the odd comment, or link to even more mysterious codie places can occasionally be found. You will get really raw opinions and arguments about the latest games, the state of the games industry, and pretty much anything else you can think of on 4chan’s dedicated gaming boards, and it’s also a good place to casionally dig up some of the more obscure or underground gaming reltaed information. Ok, most of this stuff is teenage rantings, and when you do get a link to actual software its generally badly put together hentai, flash, meme-generator, fluff that is designed to shock more than entertain. But you can also sometimes find a diamonmd in the rough. Something regarding an obscure or otherwise hard to obtain Eastern game maybe, other times a link to things that will never make it onto the western market. And contrary to the average media-spin this isn’t all filth-ridden Lolicon Hentai trash or haker-wares, although again it is there and really best avoided. It’s also sometimes a decent source for information about the more obscure Indy games and tech-demos... yes people do actually still make tech-demos.

4chan is one of the few remaining bastions of the Internets raw edge, and as such it can cut you, but it can also wield very interesting and unexpected results.
I’ve had a bit of a rummage around the boards over the past few months (so you don’t have to: because some things just can’t be unseen...) and have found some interesting stuff. If you stick to the non-porn boards and resist the temptation to sneek a peek into /b/ (hey, I know you probably won't listen to me, and you may regret it) there is a lot of very interesting raw information slushing around 4chan. The /b/tards (denesins of the 'random' board) have just about as botton-line an opinion as you can get, and don't think for a moment that this opinion isn't important and isn't noticed. If you want to see where the hive-mind of todays gamers is going look on the 4chan boards.

If you do decide to have a look around 4chan for yourself, please remember that this is a totally uncensored self-policing environment, and whilst blatantly illegal posts are generally reported and removed fairly quickly, you will see a lot of disturbing to downright sickening stuff on there, especially in the eponymous /b/ (random) board. Stay away from it or you probably will be offended well within the first ten minutes of browsing, no seriously you will. Shocking people is a bit of a game on 4chan, so don’t believe anything you read or see on it. It’s often referred to as ‘The antisocial network’ for good reason. It is rather user-unfriendly in interface, design, and attitude. You are anonymous (small ‘a’ - see what I did there?) on this board, and each post is left to fend for itself as soon as the send-button is hit. Most posts pretty much immediately die away, and there is no archiving or history mechanism. When something is gone, it’s gone, and the turnaround is phenomenal. Refreshing the first page of /b/ just a few seconds apart often results in a completely different set of posts. If FaceBook is a surgical-strike in social-network posting, I think 4chan can best be described as the napalm-bomb approach, for various reasons.

If you are familiar with 4chan (especially if you are a /b/tard or an 'oldfag') this probably all sounds like obvious advice from a 'newfag' and a 'moralfag,' but if you arn't it's well worth a look, as long as you are going in with your eyes open and your wits sharp...

Oh, and the 4chan speek/terms... yeh, get very used to them because that's not even near the tip of the 4chan iceburg.

And if anybody is interested...

Keep the internet free /b/

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