Illustration: [Pixiv]

9/7/2012: Updated with feedback from moot

4chan, the Internet's long-time dumping ground and butt of many a joke, is getting serious about software by making their biggest public-facing code change in nearly a decade, introducing an API and a bunch of new functionality.

Given its reputation, many commentators have already written this off with a shrug and a laugh. But 4chan is also one of the web's most popular and influential communities. It's the source of so many Internet-age cultural trends that even your grandma may be dimly aware that the clever picture she posted on her Facebook was trawled a thousand copies ago from the dark depths of /mlp/. Given that there's big money in all this, the API offers businesses a direct line to the heart of the machine.

As a professional software developer and long time 4chan user, I think this is a pretty interesting development. I talked yesterday afternoon to some of those who worked on 4chan's code over the years and know a little about why this is such an important development.