Sometimes, it's the community that makes a site what it is. It's that unique thread of personality, inside jokes and general rules of engagement that gives it the je ne sais quoi and separates it from the crowd. What would Reddit be without Narwhals and bacon, for example? For anonymous message board 4chan, its that unique community identity that's lead to such wondrous Internet memes as Pedobear, Rick Rolling and Chocolate Rain.
So, with4chan founder Chris Poole launching a new site, can we expect more of the same or will a new venture attract a new crowd?
According to Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch, Poole has "taken what works [at 4chan], changed other things, and created something wholly new." That new endeavor, called Canvas, is a service that lets users interact around images, remixing them to form newer, better, and likely ever more vulgar and disturbing imagery from such sacrosanct stock as pudgy babies and teddy bears.
And this is the thing - because it is a service started by the creators of one of the most vile, immature locales on the Internet, can expect more of the same? Take a gander at the screenshot:
Poole told TechCrunch that "Canvas is all about discovery, sharing and play" and that other types of content, such as video, audio and rich text, are on the way. "Our goal," writes Pool on the company's launch announcement, "is to create the best place to share and play with images."
Canvas will have accounts and user profiles - as opposed to 4chan's completely detached, userless experience - but they will be "nothing more than a gathering of the various content [the user] added to the site."
The service opened up today to several thousand beta testers and you can request an invite by logging on to the site using your Facebook account. But this connection to your Facebook identity is tentative at best and only exists for purposes of onboarding new users. That means the most important 4chan characteristic - anonymity - will remain in tact. This point seems to be the primary for many taking a first look at the service today.
Arrington finishes his discussion of Canvas by noting that "Canvas is a separate entity from 4chan, with no connection other than Poole. But my guess is more than a few of the 4chan crowd may head over to Canvas to take a gander." ReadWriteWeb alum Adrianne Jeffries finishes with a similar caveat, warning that "If Mr. Poole wants Canvas to appeal to the big kids, he needs to ditch some of his old crowd, and real ID seems to be his solution."
From the looks of things, though, it looks like only a matter of time before pudgy "babbys" with mouths for belly buttons devolves into the standard 4chan fare that, as Jeffries notes, "runs ads almost exclusively for anime and porn."