Christopher “moot” Poole, the young founder of the irascible online forum 4chan, will speak in February at the TED conference, the elite gathering of thought leaders whose video-taped talks have become immensely popular online. Though the conference is always strong on tech speakers (that’s what the “T” in its name stands for), usually that means folks like Bill Gates (who’s presenting again this year) and Tim Berners-Lee.
Poole has only rarely appeared publicly, and kept his identity secret for years after he started the site at age 15 in 2003. He’s presenting at TED during a session on the topic of “provocation,” in between a Harvard government professor famous for lectures about justice and an anti-slavery activist. 4chan’s contributions to the world, at their best, are memes like Rickrolling and lolcats, but its members are also known for mounting online attacks on sites, individuals and the Church of Scientology. One thing’s for sure, the web video of Poole’s talk will be a hit.