Here’s a product review of the Insignia flip cam I bought: it is a fantastic piece of garbage. It keeps randomly corrupting video that I shoot so it crashes my editing software. I realize you get what you pay for, and I can live with the low-end picture and sound quality, but the thing should at least [i]function[/i] shouldn’t it?
My blood pressure can’t take the aggravation of an hour of setup and filming getting flushed because technology is retarded, so no video this week. Until I can get my hands on a better camera, I’ll just post the scripts for vlogs I can’t get usable video for. I thought #016 was just a fluke, but apparently this is going to be a common occurence, so we’re all just going to have to live with it.
Here’s the script:
AT&T tried to block 4chan. I repeat: AT&T tried to block 4chan!
If you don’t know what 4chan is you’re probably better off continuing to not know. Basically it’s a website where thousands and thousands of anonymous people try to out-gross each other with pictures of stretchy buttholes or babies exploding or the odd link to a Rick Astley video.
Okay, so why is this a big deal, who cares if some nasty website gets blocked? Long story short it’s a big deal for two reasons. First, because 4chan’s users have a history of overreacting to things like this. And second, because it sets a horrible precident for the restriction of free speech.
Tackling the first point: I said 4chan’s users were anonymous and that’s a label they take very, very seriously. Inasmuch as they take anything seriously. Capital-A Anonymous revels in phrases like “We do not forgive. We do not forget. We are legion.” And Anonymous must always, always deliver. On good days Anonymous puts its limitless manpower to work on projects like protesting Scientology and forwarding information on known child molestors to the FBI. On bad days they make fun of autistic people and take down websites they don’t like wth coordinated Denial of Service attacks.
I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to call Anonymous a force to be reckoned with. They get away with pretty much whatever they want on the internet, but the people they deal the most damage to tend to be those people who get the internet confused with real life. And besides, they’re not a coordinated or organized group; the moment something else shiny comes along and catches their attention, they lose interest in whatever mischief they were currently engaged in.
But the blocking of their beloved website is something Anonymous took very seriously indeed; serious enough to send AT&T’s corporate office a few hundred pizzas and attempt to manipulate their stock by spreading rumors via Twitter that their CEO had died. It probably didn’t occur to anyone to think about how effective either of these strategies would actually be, but that’s not the point. They would have been amusing, and in the fast-moving world of 4chan, that’s really all that matters.
So the second point is whether or not AT&T blocking websites sets a precident for restriction of speech. Well, it turns out AT&T put the block in place because they were on the receiving end of Denial of Service attacks that were traced back to 4chan, not because the content of 4chan was objectionable.
The prevailing attitude from people who know about 4chan but don’t use it themselves was, of course, who cares if an ISP blocks that horrible, worthless site? Or, to put it in the words of a 4chan meme, “Nothing of value was lost.”
I could dedicate the rest of this video to what a dangerous attitude that is, because giving ISPs the ability to make judgment calls and block content would obviously lead to all of us tumbling head first into a communist police state. But no, instead I’m going to take issue with the idea that 4chan offers us nothing of value. Because I think 4chan provides two very useful services to the rest of us.
Number one: it’s our storm drain. When floods of crap come crashing through the internet, a lot of it manages to filter down to 4chan, where it sticks and stays. Unless you do something to specifically draw their attention away, like for example make a YouTube video about them while wearing a fedora, you can go about your online life without ever crssing paths with the denizens of 4chan. The anonymity provided by 4chan and websites like it allow people to act in their bizarre, socially-anomolous ways in a controlled environment rather than on whatever your favorite website or forum happens to be.
Number two: we’ve all heard the old addage about an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters eventually producing Shakespeare. Well, the typical 4chan user is at least slightly more intelligent than a typical typewriting monkey, and whenever they manage to produce something genuinely entertaining it has a tendancy to escape 4chan and run wild across the rest of the world. If you’ve ever laughed at a cat picture with a silly caption or used the words “win” and “fail” as nouns, congratulations! You’re participating in mainstream internet culture that originated in the bowels of the 4chan fringe group.
Trends are set by people out in the extremes. You might not like punk music or death metal, but the music you DO like probably wouldn’t exist without their influence. It’s why you never actually see the crazy outfits runway models wear at fashions shows on the rack; by the time the ideas reach mainstream they’ve been normalized for our consumption — but the ideas themselves remain good.
So even though I’m not a /b/-tard myself I do appreciate what it does and I’m glad AT&T didn’t block it permenantly. I like knowing that the place exists, even though I would never, ever want to actually pay it a visit. Kind of like Texas. See you guys next week.