Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anonymous; what is it?


"Even if spectacle alone is insufficient to engender political change, it is hard to overstate its importance for publicising issues and clarifying political stakes. With Anonymous, it is not simply that their DDoS tactics dramatise specific issues, such as with their campaign in the winter of this year against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It is that in their totality - as a masked entity bearing the name Anonymous - it relays an urgent message about anonymity to contemplate. Given the contemporary reality of a corporate and state controlled surveillance apparatus, Anonymous stands out, compels, and enchants for a very particular reason: it has provided a small but potent oasis of anonymity in the current expansive desert of surveillance, much like the one quite literally being built in the Utah desert right now by the NSA."

Gabriella Coleman is one of the few people on earth who could be called an "expert" on Anonymous.  I like her style and most of her writings on the subject.

I look at Anonymous as having 2 historic parts so far; the protests against Scientology, and the online attacks on government, business, and such.  I suspect that not many people overlap in both these groups, but I don't know anyone (at least I think I don't) in the 2nd bunch.  Their campaign against Scientology was the cause that got them out of their parents' basements and out into the real world.  The online attacks let them go back to their basement apartments, but still confront actual organizations.

Anonymous in general is barely connected people who see something wrong while they're online and say "Oh yeah?  Well fuck that," and then do something about it.  They want to keep their anonymity, have fun, and do something reasonably useful if it seems worthwhile.  They have no leadership, no written code (except maybe this), and no real long-term plan or goal. If enough people think something is a good idea, it will be done. If not, you will be ridiculed mercilessly for coming up with such a stupid idea.

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