4chan Founder Unleashes Canvas On The World

Canvas launches today for 4,000 or so lucky souls.

Seven year old 4chan, created by now-23 year old Christopher Poole, continues to delight and enrage the Internet. Major Internet memes were either created or spread on 4chan, as were more denial of service attacks than we can count. Twelve million or so people a month visit the site, and at any given moment there are 60,000 – 70,000 people on 4chan.

4chan’s success, says Poole, is based on three things. Real time collaboration as visitors riff back and forth about posted items, often pictures. A true shared experience as an item pops up on 4chan and then eventually falls off the board (there are no archives). And fluid identity – to add content on 4Chan all you have to do is write something, upload a file and complete a captcha. There are no user accounts.

But 4chan isn’t Poole’s ultimate goal. He’s taken what works there, changed other things, and created something wholly new – Canvas.

We’ve known about the startup since early last year when news leaked out about a small funding round with top tier investors. but until now very few people have been able to actually see the site. The team of four – including Poole – have been hard at work and keeping quiet.

Today, though, a few thousand people who requested beta invitations over the last several months will get access to the site. More people will be added in batches over time, and everyone who originally requested an account will eventually be given an invite to bring in a friend.

So what’s Canvas? Like 4chan it’s a place for people to post content and start a discussion. It has distinct similarities to 4chan – although content is archived, and people create accounts. But users stay totally anonymous. Their profile page is nothing more than a gathering of the various content they’ve added to the site.

Canvas is starting just with images. Like Dailybooth users upload a picture and a discussion starts. Dailybooth, though is mostly about people uploading pictures of themselves. Lots and lots and lots of pictures of themselves. On Canvas, there’s a lot of photoshopping going on, and some of it is highly entertaining.

Take the most popular discussion right now, showing a picture of a very chubby baby. Lots and lots of photoshopped variations have been added.

More casual viewers can add their two cents by dragging and dropping visual icons – smiley faces, LOL, WTF, etc, to the content. This creates an easy way to gather a lot of metadata about an image, and help push it up or down on the popular list.

Poole says they’ll soon add other types of content as well – video, audio, rich text. “This is just the kernel of the long term vision, Canvas is all about collaboration” he says. “Canvas is all about discovery, sharing and play.”

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.