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ANONYMOUS IN CONTEXT: THE POLITICS AND POWER BEHIND THE MASK

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Published on Jul 31, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Anonymous is a banner used by individuals and various ad hoc and stable groups unfurling political operations across the globe from Brazil to the Philippines from the Dominican Republic to India. By 2012 Anonymous became multitudinous, prolific, and unpredictable.

Gabriella Coleman examines the various factors that secure their dynamic presence, mutability, plurality and flexibility and their contemporary geopolitical power including its ability to land media attention, its bold and recognizable aesthetics, its participatory openness, and the misinformation that surrounds it. One feature stands out in this mix: Anonymous' unpredictability. It is difficult to know when or why it will strike, when a new node will appear, whether a campaign will be successful, and how Anonymous might change direction or tactics during the course of an operation. Anonymous, borne through raucous experimentation, still values errantry and play, their unpredictability a central ingredient to their thunderous rise and success.

ABOUT GABRIELLA COLEMAN
Gabriella (Biella) Coleman is the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, she researches, writes, and teaches on hackers and digital activism. Her first book on Free Software, Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking, has been published with Princeton University Press. She is currently working on a new book on Anonymous and digital media for Verso.

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