Hiding behind a mask, a distorted voice or a hood while using a dark threatening tone may not be the best way to defend an ideal, and if we forget the “virtual” asset of its nature, Anonymous could easily be considered a scary threat. Its lack of hierarchy or any sort of organized structure make it even more mysterious… so allow me to mentally masturbate about this movement which dates back to 2003 when it’s believed to be the “formal” beginning of this entity.
In January 2008 the Project Chanology takes big A to the next level. The ethereal yet somehow organised community found a renown enemy: The Church of Scientology. For the first time Anonymous are cataloged as a raising group of hackivists with the uploading of a video to Youtube harshly criticizing Scientology’s actions then followed by DDoS attacks and finally, non-violent protests.
Their actions have quickly become our morning news and when one day you wake up reading an attack to multinational (like the popular Sony payback operation) the following is a public institution or a government. They’ve long-claimed to be guardians of Internet’s freedom of expression… but it was during the Wikileaks storm and last year’s Arab Spring rising that their actions became mainstream.
By the end of 2010 big A redefine their message with the Julian Assange arrest. The Wikileaks uproar grows bigger in 2011 and everything becomes increasingly complex within the web sphere. Our perception of the Internet changes overnight as it becomes a collective consciousness: whatever you do with it, has a direct impact in our real world while offering a reflection and an analysis of today’s society. It is the best breeding ground for revolts and the best instrument for criticism.
The Internet, in all its grandeur and complexity has become a major problem for those attached to the real & tangible world…. those who have major financial interests in such materiality and for whom all this cyber-stir isn’t very reassuring. Hadopi, Acta, Sopa, Mega-Upload shutdown… so many instruments and opportunities to discuss the suitability of controlling the grassland. In this context Anonymous becomes increasingly relevant for public and media… more videos, more attacks, more intrusions, more websites down… it pours Anonymous every week, and not always in a coherent or harmonious way…
In this period of economic crisis and continuous conflict-climax big A seem to have introduced a universal revolt spirit contributing to a large list of real-world movements like Occupy WS or Indignados that up to now tended to happen locally or regionally without connection. Youtube is flooded with their clips emerging from national and continental Anonymous “cells”… there is such profusion of content and acts that multinationals feel powerlessness.
Legality is a completely different aspect. Most governments have classified the movement as cyber terrorism or within other similar categories. These seem to be just as overwhelmed as some big companies and mainly because of the increasing motivation, unity and dark nature of Anonymous… a paradigm is installed. The latter use illegal actions to defend (in essence) democratic values, the former do tend to use democratically legal but doubtful methods… and a significant mess emerges from all this.
Hard to say who’s truly installed behind the Anonymous mask. Traditional media consider them this or that, then some sociologists label them as immature sociopaths… from my personal point of view there’s little or no interest in asking ourselves about the motivations or profiling of a few isolated individuals who act on behalf of x. The interest arises when we consider Anonymous as a whole: the social phenomena.
This is one of the particularities of the movement born from the Internet, hard to accept and conceive: a mass of information and opinions that gave birth to entities which aren’t physical nor homogeneous and that many times are at odds with the individuals that are supposed to be part of it.
Impossible to track and define each of the circulating thoughts we’ll be limited to identify and analyze the trends they embody if willing to propose a psychological profile of the group. Big A is still too young to be cataloged other than the edgiest virtual version of a social group, give them time to develop and federate… they might end up creating political parties like the PPI.