Imagine if everyone, from “Grownups, kids, and even your sister” used 4chan. Imagine if the Democratic and Republican parties held party primary mudslinging contents on /b/. Imagine if celebrities chattered anonymously on /tv/. This is how important 2channel was to Japanese society. It was effectively, the definition of The Internet.
In Japan, the concept of anonymous textboards became popular for it's ability to freely depict a person's 本音, (true feelings), rather than their 建前 (public facade).
More importantly, anonymous textboards had virtually no barrier to entry. In most western forums, you have to sign up for an account, complete an email verification, even pay a membership fee just for access. But on anonymous forums, you just type text in a box and post it. This makes it possible for anyone to just jump in and say exactly what they feel.
Facebook and blogs in Japan often look more like LinkedIn. This sort of pretty resume that shows employers how perfect you are, but says nothing about who you really are.
International Influence of Japan
Japanese culture, as a package, has the same hold on the English-language internet like France's values of liberty, liberalism, and romance spread throughout Europe.
- It was the first country to gain high speed broadband, multimedia computing, cell phone internet, and developed an entire digital culture when the US was just being introduced to AOL.
- All the way back in the 1990s, Japan was a living model of the science fiction concept of Cyberpunk, where digital networks influence the very lives of humanity.
- Japan's pop culture and mass media is built on participatory culture. This concept, mirrored in the West as "Web 2.0", transforms users from passive listeners to active content contributors. Everyone posts, and
- Japan's culture is specifically engineered to have viral appeal. It's popular culture and advertisements are focused on the celebration and cultivation of the strange, exactly what today's Internet's memes are made of.
- Japanese culture spread worldwide first through video games (via the uninterrupted flow of Nintendo, Sega, and Sony).
- Later, the hard work of renegade volunteer translators brought high quality scanlated and speedsubbed anime and manga... for free.
There's a story about how, in his youth, Frederick the Great and his friend became so obsessed with France (speaking French, reading French stories, collecting French furniture) that they tried to escape across the border. He was a Francophile: an Otaku about France.
In the West during the 1990s, while the Internet was on the cusp of the Dot-com Boom, high speed fiber was only in the beginning stages of construction.
Most internet users went online simply to consume information, in an extension of mass media, via slow dial-up modems. Not to mentionstartup companies had the idea that