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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

Is 4Chan Founder's Canvas the Next Twitter?

Canvas is different enough that its success or failure is beyond any pundit’s predictive power

  • September 6, 2011

Canvas, the image sharing-and-remix site built by the founder of infamously freewheeling Internet hangout / message board 4chan (picture Mos Eisley Cantina, but with more porn) is not the next Twitter. (“The next Twitter” would be Instagram. But I digress.)

But that doesn’t really matter, because Canvas is something pretty interesting all on its own: A super slick, super fast way to share and remix images in the childish, bizzaro-to-anyone-older-than-18 way that is so popular among all those young people who will some day control the nukes. Just a brief visit to the site will reveal a visual chaos not seen since the heydey of MySpace, and that’s deliberate: Canvas is for creating and sharing visual messages, memes and jokes.

The difference between Canvas and other sites like it is simply that Canvas is really, really good. It’s so fast and easy that it made me wish it was a little more amenable to conventional image editing tasks, the kind that bloggers like myself perform over and over again until we’re rheumy-eyed and wishing we’d stuck with the medschool track.

Canvas is so foreign to conventional social networks – it includes features like groups, replies, and badges / points – that it’s impossible to tell in advance if it will take off. Tumblr was like that too – seemed like just another blogging site, until its social features made it go viral. So here, in the spirit of the general chaos that Canvas borrows from 4chan but has hopefully sanitized for a wider audience (Canvas requires a Facebook login to force people to keep their posts clean) is the core of my review of the site:

This took about 2 minutes on Canvas

You’re welcome. Feel free to add your own reply here.

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