Here is the ultimate book on the worldwide movement of hackers, pranksters, and activists that operates under the non-name Anonymous, by the writer the Huffington Post says “knows all of Anonymous’ deepest, darkest secrets.”
Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of this global phenomenon just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption (before Anonymous shot to fame as a key player in the battles over WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street). She ended up becoming so closely connected to Anonymous that the tricky story of her inside–outside status as Anon confidante, interpreter, and erstwhile mouthpiece forms one of the themes of this witty and entirely engrossing book.
The narrative brims with details unearthed from within a notoriously mysterious subculture, whose semi-legendary tricksters—such as Topiary, tflow, Anachaos, and Sabu—emerge as complex, diverse, politically and culturally sophisticated people. Propelled by years of chats and encounters with a multitude of hackers, including imprisoned activist Jeremy Hammond and the double agent who helped put him away, Hector Monsegur, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is filled with insights into the meaning of digital activism and little understood facets of culture in the Internet age, including the history of “trolling,” the ethics and metaphysics of hacking, and the origins and manifold meanings of “the lulz.”
In this eye-opening ethnography, cultural anthropologist Coleman (Coding Freedom) constructs a fascinating picture of the many facets of the Internet collective known as Anonymous, from tricksters and trolls to social crusaders and information warriors. She pulls back the curtain to reveal feuding factions, evolving purposes, scatological humor, and a healthy dose of bizarre in-jokes. In particular, she looks at how they've taken on corporations, governments, even Scientology, and come out on top almost every time. Her writing style is as irreverent and occasionally as profane as her subjects, drawing the reader in with a casual amiability, as if sharing the wild stories of impossible and unreliable acquaintances. Interviews, chat logs, leaked documents, and personal recollections help construct one of the most accessible and most illuminating profiles possible of a group that, by its very creed, can't easily be defined or categorized. This all-access pass into the dark and wild corners of the Internet is timely, informative, and also frightening.