David Stuart 18 January 2012 - 12:37pm
Away from the (relatively) clean social networks of Facebook and Twitter there is a darker side to the web, where anonymity reigns, rules are kept to a minimum, and the content is clearly not safe for office hours.
Most of us have only heard about the image-based message board 4chan through mainstream media (if at all), where it is often portrayed as a breeding ground for criminal hackers and sociopaths. Cole Stryker shows, however, that rather than adhering to such a simplistic caricature, the anonymity that 4chan provides actually makes it a place of great creativity based on a true meritocracy where you’re only as good as your last post.
Stryker’s work weaves together a description of typical 4chan content with a wider discussion on online anonymity, the history of a participatory web, and how content evolves and is shared online. The relaxed nature of this book makes it an enjoyable read and it will inevitably cause readers to be curious about some of the content that is discussed, but the ‘not safe for work’ nature of much of the content cannot be stressed enough!
Epic Win for Anonymous is a reminder that the web doesn’t have to be the homogenized and increasingly personalized web epitomized by sites such as Facebook. There is plenty of room for alternatives such as 4chan, and whilst you may disagree or even be disgusted by some of the things people do or by some of the content they share, by the end of the book you can’t help but feel that the web is better off with 4chan than without it.