Chris Poole on the recent rise of anonymity and ephemerality:

The combination of anonymity and ephemerality has fostered experimentation and creativity rarely seen elsewhere. It’s incredible what people can make when they’re able to fail publicly without fear, since not only will those failures not be attributed to them, but they’ll be washed away by a waterfall of new content. Only ideas that resonate with the broader community persist, creating the most ideal conditions for the production of viral content, which established 4chan as one of the Web’s earliest “meme factories.”

He’s exactly right, of course. People tend to focus on the malicious or seedy potential with this type of content, but this overlooks something much more powerful at play: the removal of fear.