Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Reading: 4Chan, Sarah Palin, and Stupid Questions

Rick-Astley-dead Have you ever been to 4Chan?  I feel like I use the Mos Eisley metaphor for way too many sites nowadays, but it’s especially accurate when discussing the seven-year-old image board.  You can find pictures of anything there.  And after those pictures you might just find some of the nastiest stuff ever said to anyone ever – but I’m generalizing.

Specifically, in 2008, you might have found an image from one David Kernell, who hacked Sarah Palin’s email account and took some screenshots.  Kernell is now being tried for disseminating the information, which is raising questions about what is or isn’t public record yadda yadda yadda.

The real fun part of this story is when the founder of 4Chan, the 22-year-old Christopher “Moot” Poole, was brought in to testify.  Amid a flurry of strangely specific questions about how 4Chan processes images, a few choice gems surfaced:

“Q: What do the words “caps” mean?

A: Screenshots.

Q: And is there any significance to “new fags”?

A: That is the term used to describe new users to the site.

[snip]

Q: “Rickroll”?

A: Rickroll is a mean or Internet kind of trend that started on 4chan where users – it basically a bait and switch.   Users link you to a video of Rick Astley performing Never Gonna Give You Up.

[snip, the other lawyer now]

Q: And the term “rickroll” you said it tries to make people go to a site where they think it is going to be one thing, but it is a video of Rick Astley, is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: He was some kind of singer?

A: Yes.

Q: It’s a joke?

A: Yes.

Why the counselors are so concerned about the particulars of rickrolling is beyond me, but it makes for a hilarious case of straight-talkin’ suits trying to grapple with the fast-moving world of the Interwebs. 

[from Business Insider via The Smoking Gun]