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Single Identity Internet Could Stifle Creativity

4chan founder presents the case for anonymity fueling creativity and experimentation.

Stephen Fortune
Stephen Fortune on March 14, 2011.

Against a backdrop of Facebook’s increasingly intractable and problematic ‘real names’ policy (contentiously illustrated by the revoking of Michael Anti’s account) and Obama’s Internet ID cards, 4chan founder Moot’s SXSW speech provided a timely counterargument. He presented 4chan as a case study for how anonymity and lack of archiving can be drivers in creativity and experimentation:

4chan’s rules and structure reward what’s being created, not the creator

He stressed that no anonymity provides a high cost of failure.

“The cost of failure is really high when you’re contributing as yourself,” an increasingly common situation as Facebook and commenting accounts are tied to your identity spread

The importance of making peace with the inevitably of failure and not letting it impede subsequent ventures is recognised in many fields; from the working methods of venture capitalists to the dictum of Google’s “Experiment rapidly, embrace failure”. Yet for all that, there is no point ignoring the stigma of failure, nor the immensely detrimental effect most of us assume it will have on our social capital. For this reason alone, Moot’s argument is a powerful one against the current identification trends creeping into our internet usage.

Moot’s comments are interesting given that his recent venture Canv.as, currently in Beta, does employ Facebook authentication. However Moot stresses that this is simply used to reduce trolling and that single identities do not surface at the level of collaborative interaction

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DurQRZhREe0&

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