BCM 112

Collective Intelligence and the implications of 4Chan

Collective intelligence refers to when people engage in shared or group intelligence by contributing and collecting their efforts to achieve a certain goal.

The very nature of forum sites, like 4chan, evolve around collective intelligence and present various implications for political organizations and legacy media (i.e. news media).

Firstly, 4chan is based on an involvement model. The anonymity of the site allows various users to post information without it being traced back to them, ideal for whistle-blowers.

It thrives on the idea of content being a conversation, by allowing open access it provides any user to have their moment in the spotlight. With no hierarchical structure present this means those that contribute to the ‘conversation’ may vary, from academics and experts of a particular field to those who simply hold an interest in the topic. This essentially rejects news media, which is based on an authoritarian model (i.e. ‘your number one source for news’).

Secondly, 20 million users visit 4chan and 540 million view its content, every month (Mashable 2014)! The level of traffic and participation involved on 4chan presents:

“A shift from dedicated individuals and teams as producers to a broader-based, distributed generation of content by a wide community of participants”

Axel Bruns

4chan essentially demonstrates how creative problem-solving can be incredibly efficient and successful when combining a variety of users. An example of this was the Shia LaBeouf #HeWillNotDivideUs flag incident, where 4chan users worked collectively to find the location of a flag hidden somewhere in the world.

It’s for this reason, why legacy media and political organizations feel threatened by this rapid collective intelligence, as distributive networks give power to the people. My remediation for this week aims to highlight on this point by using an image from the film “V for Vendetta” (2005), where the protagonist blows up the Houses of Parliament to destabilise a fascist government and free the citizens of England from oppression.

P.S. I Hope you understand what I’m on about with my remediation piece, if not comment below and let me know how l could have improved it.




Wall, T 2018, The power of networks [part 1]: distributed journalism and collective intelligence, lecture recording, Emergent Media BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 2 April 2018.

Mashable 2014, What is 4chan? | Mashable Explains, online video, 19 September, viewed 5 April 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMm-RZWdg6k.

BTGKarlo 2011, V for Vendetta – final revolution scene, online video, 29 January, viewed 5 April 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-gHVGOoE48.