Chris Collins on WFMU Too Much Information


The most recent episode of WFMU's Too Much Information is on the topic of pseudonyms with guests like EFF's Jillian YorkCarmela Ciuraru author of Nom de Plume, and Chris Collins, who talks about his epic post for The State, unraveling the mystery of several visually striking work-at-home images found on Craigslist attributed to "Luzy":

Each image I found was more thrilling than the previous one, and I was struck by their breadth and intensity as a body of work. Each one used stock imagery typical to this type of industry: images of sandy beaches, exotic locations, piles of money, and “cyber” looking backdrops. Yet each was constructed in a way that seemed alien to all traditional conventions of design. Imagery was stretched, enlarged and compressed in odd ways, and the text on the images made it clear that English was not the first language of the images’ creator. They exploded with strange color choices. The compositions were unlike anything I’d ever seen. A graphic designer would look at them and call them horrendous. I found them bizarre, perplexing, and beautiful.


RECOMMENDED READING: 4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community


MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and University of Southampton researchers recently wrote a paper analyzing 4Chan's "alternative credibility mechanisms" and particular community activity. Collecting a dataset over two weeks (576,096 posts in 482,559 threads) 4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community (Michael S. Bernstein, Andrès Monroy-Hernández, Drew Harry, Paul Andrè, Katrina Panovich, Greg Vargas) considers the speed of activity on the site and user habits like having “/b/ folders” archiving material from the site and unicode fluency is a status indicator. Interestingly, the paper sees 4chan's ephemerality as a potential motivator for further participation ("One may think users would see no point to contributing if their actions will be removed within minutes. However, if /b/ users want to keep a thread from expiring within minutes, they need to keep conversation active. This 'bump' practice, combined with a norm of quick replies, may encourage community members to contribute content. This hypothesis was derived from our observations, and will need to be tested more rigorously.")

Among their findings:

  • The median life of a thread is just 3.9 minutes...The fastest thread to expire was gone in 28 seconds (i.e., a thread with no responses during a very high activity period); the longest-lived lasted 6.2 hours (i.e., a thread with frequent new posts to bump it).
  • The median thread spends just 5 seconds on the first page over its entire lifetime..The fastest thread was pushed off the first page in less than one second (actually, 58 of them shared this dubious honor), and the most prominent thread spent 37 minutes on the first page cumulatively over its lifetime.
  • Threads last the longest between 9am and 10am EST and expire fastest between 5pm and 7pm EST ...
  • MORE »