Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

“The Discourse Politics of the Internet Hate Machine”: Request for feedback

I’m basically doing a Habermasian interpretation of the Internet culture centered in 4chan.

The document linked to below is my introductory exposition. I’d like to get this section as right as possible. To that end, any comments, suggestions, outright pwnings you can hit me with are welcome.


  • It’s still rough. Flagging weird sentences and typos would be helpful.
  • I haven’t standardized my citation style yet. Don’t stress about that.
  • If you can think of any more illustrative examples for particular descriptive points, send them along.

Please don’t plagiarize this. If you do, know that I submitted a draft for faculty review last week. Not only are hard copies date stamped, but both of my faculty readers can attest that it is my original work.


Habermas – 051309-2 – INTRO



In terms of its actual content, the IHM (the “Internet hate machine”) is not itself bounded by explicit, pre-established norms, nor is it instrumentally oriented towards any particular issues—as would be, for example, an on-line anonymous discourse facilitated with the a priori aim of organizing political opposition to an oppressive government. “/b/,” as one of the primary loci of the IHM, is identified by 4chan.org as its “random” board and its content is only minimally regulated—moderators reserve the right (only fitfully exercised) to delete illegal images, such as child pornography, and to ban the IP addresses of those who post them.16 But beyond that, the stated “rules” for /b/ are “ZOMG NONE!!!1.”17

Christopher Poole, the recently revealed “real world” identity of the founder of 4chan.org,18 told Mattathias Schwartz with reference to /b/ that “Ultimately the power lies in the community to dictate its own standards … all we do is provide a general framework.”19 While he was referring to /b/ in particular, since there is no coherent administrative rationality governing the Internet, his claim obtains for the IHM generally: the norms governing the IHM and the interests steering it have emerged—and must emerge—from the IHM itself.


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