04/13/2018 (Fri) 06:44:24
I read a thread asking what would be next after imageboards if they no longer have a place in the future, on 8chan/tech/ I think. I''ve been thinking about that question.
4chan is somewhat primitive in comparison to the newer imitations. 8chan and Endchan and the like allow for not only multiple file uploads per post, but also multiple file types, beyond merely images and videos. At that point, you have a filesharing platform that is only an "imageboard" in legacy. From there, we can abstract to the nature of a 'chan'.
What features make a chan? The list is surprisingly long if one gets fine-grained with the details.
>anonymized by default
>centralized hosting and moderation
>ephemerality of hosting
>lack of profiles and microblogs excluding this thread
>linear, chronological ordering of posts
And on you could go. Compare this to Reddit, and ask yourself whether you would be looking at a regression in either direction, or if they are both valid solutions to different problem sets, with their own separate lineages of progression and degeneration. I lean toward the latter stance; that position reframes the original question, "What will replace imageboards?". It entails the question, "What are chans for?". And that is a very big and complicated topic of debate.
But for the sake of this conversation, how about the answer of "Quick, no strings attached, discussion and file sharing"? That necessitates profiles not being a requirement, having the ability to share many and multiple types of files at once. Reducing user liability for what is posted is where wanting to increase anonymization comes in. Ephemerality of content, some say, is an essential feature of chans, but to me it seems to be more of a practical matter of how much data really can the host afford to keep. So while there is a baseline of data that needs to be kept for the site to be functional, there doesn't seem to be a limit or maximum amount of data that can be hosted.
What would people do with a chan? Discuss and share files. Drop in, drop out, whenever one feels like. Meetups maybe, even some regular socializing would be possible---unless strict anonymity was enforced (anti-contactfagging and anti-faceposting). But at the end of the day, it would be about saying and sharing what one wants without fear of reprisal. From a user standpoint, it's also a source of thought, ideas, and digital content. People also treat chans like Reddit, with a heavy emphasis on linking and responses to outside content, but that is more a feature that is possible and not inherent to its nature. And of course, the chans are also sources of original content.
With all of this in mind, it doesn't seem like there would need to be too much evolution of chans right now to produce better platforms. Going off the last point in the previous paragraph, there's room to include collaborative content creation, like an online GIMP like Google Docs or something for making memes. Chan hosts would need to encrypt user identifiers to the extent that even they wouldn't know who is who, if total anonymity became an ideal. Embedding linked websites right into the thread is also a wild idea, but again, would be more suited to Reddit-likes. Maybe there's something to do about the content segregation---how boards, and even threads, can keep users away from the website in its totality. Would the trend be toward broader board topics, like a single technology board andor science board, or toward more specific topics, like programming, security, hardware, and so on? This, I do not know.
Anyway, I'm exhausted talking about this for now, but would like to hear thoughts if people have them. I likely will expand later.