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Mainstream Media Looks At Anonymous 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-no-attention-the-nerds-behind-the-curtain dept.
ScuttleMonkey writes "In an uncharacteristically accurate writeup of Anonymous, the Guardian has published a look at the assembled mob behind the mask. A great place to send those unfamiliar with who or what Anonymous really is. From the article: 'This collective identity belongs to no one in particular, but is at the disposal of anyone who knows its rules and knows how to apply them. Anonymous, the collective identity, is older than Anonymous, the hacktivist group – more to the point, I propose that the hacktivist group can be understood as an application of Anonymous, the collective identity.'"
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Mainstream Media Looks At Anonymous

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:27PM (#36098754)
    Sounds like the sort of person who can give a good report on this issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by anonymov (1768712)

      Why, would you prefer it to be "Social Media Expert" or some other weasel words?

      The author actually does a pretty good job, though I'd disagree with some of her points.

      But then, I'd yet to find one to say "I really know what Anonymous is!" and not break out his not-sufficiently-humble opinion on the subject - /. experts on Anonymous included.

      On a side note, all those writing Anonymous with capital A make me puke. Is it just or does anyone else feel it whores out the concept of anonymity and anonymous?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's largely the point! The capital A is effectively an icon. The individuals may be nameless but the movement and its actions are not.

        It seems like such a simple and self-evident concept. It is not any one particular group, yet it unites those who identify with the movement. In a data-driven world where anonymity had been practically forgotten, the movement is a reminder that social change does not require one dictatorial leader, but merely a group of nobodies acting in concert.

        For example, the rebel

        • by anonymov (1768712)

          "A group of nobodies acting in concert" does not equate "Anonymous". All mass uprisings were "groups of nobodies acting in concert".

          That's why I say "whoring out" - Anonymous is the one who thinks big, important thoughts and stands up for the greater justice, and others are just petty script kiddy cowards hiding behind the mask and clearly has nothing to do with We, The Anonymous, The Forece For The Greater Good.

          Disgusting, really.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          And mob rule always works out so well.
      • by bane2571 (1024309)
        I'm cool with capilisation. "Anonymous" is an adjective so to use it in a sentance the way most news reporters do, you need to make it a proper noun, IE: capitalise it.
      • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:09PM (#36100464) Journal
        I'm Synonymous. Exactly the same as Anonymous, just a different name.
        • by WWWWolf (2428)

          I'm Synonymous. Exactly the same as Anonymous, just a different name.

          After seeing the original Chanology clip with the speech-synthesis voice, I was ready to call them Monotonous...

    • To be fair it seems to be a very well written article if using slightly more flowery language than required.
      It even seems to have actually been decently researched.

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      Sounds like the sort of person who can give a good report on this issue.

      The internet is media. Someone who studies Anonymous is necessarily engaging in "media studies". Are you saying someone whose academic focus is media studies isn't qualified to engage in media studies? Who would you suggest, then? A biologist?

    • A person studying Theater, Film and Media is indeed the most qualified to talk, because the concept is older than written history and perhaps older than the concept of mask itself:

      1. In Ancient Greek Theater, especially Tragedy (also in classical theater of other cultures), Anonymous is personified on stage by the Chorus, representing a very elaborate hybrid of the author's opinion and the Public Opinion. The chorus wore masks, to make the distinction between a person and a collective explicit.

      2. In Film, a

  • From TFS:

    From the article: 'This collective identity belongs to no one in particular, but is at the disposal of anyone who knows its rules and knows how to apply them.

    But not to anyone else, is that the story? So much glorification of such a flimsy premise...

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      But not to anyone else, is that the story?

      You could, perhaps, actually read the story to find out what the story is. Silly idea, I know... so much easier to just go off on one particular sentence from the summary...

    • by SETIGuy (33768)
      I think you're mistaking what is meant by rules, and maybe that's because of poor writing. Maybe a more descriptive way would be "but it at the disposal of anyone able to sway a significant number of the members and direct them towards a goal." (I'm not sure members is an appropriate word, though, because the number of participants is larger than the "membership.") How this is accomplished is by following unwritten rules of how members interact and rules that apply to any human behavior.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:31PM (#36098810)

    The Scientologists would have already sued them into oblivion. Their disorganization is their strength.

  • "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." .. seems oddly apt, but possibly a little late for the mainstream news.
    • Yes, Nietzsche is a 'little late' for the mainstream news. Also a little much. We're talking Ronald McDonald here.
  • Just read Lord of the Flies. Or any of the studies of how people behave when they feel like they are anonymous. And you can stop calling them anything or you declare them a gang of bullies and identity thieves that will attack those that say things they do not agree with.
    If they are just a random blob of people with out structure you can call them nothing but a population.
    If they are not then they have attacked people for as harmless as a teenage boy that started a website that encouraged kids to not use pr

  • Sony Hack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:40PM (#36098926)

    In regards to the Sony hack which Anonymous supposedly denies, if Anonymous is leaderless, isn't it pretty much impossible to say whether or not they did something? Can't anybody claim to be Anonymous and do what ever they want? I assume for anything Anonymous does there are some people who consider themselves members who disagree, so does that mean Anonymous didn't do it?

    This isn't meant as a critique of Anonymous, but without leaders or hierarchy it's pretty much impossible to define what it is or what it does.

    • by lazorz (1544583)

      Yes, exactly right. I am tired of seeing articles claiming "the Anonymous" did one thing or another. Anyone unidentified is by definition "anonymous" and trying to pin this name onto a specific group of people is an insult to intelligence.

      • but of course it was anonymous

        "Do we know who did it?"
        "no"
        "so the perpetrators are anonymous"
        "uhhhh"
        "Anonymous did it!"

        Of course that lone wolf "Somebody" seems to have done even more dastardly deeds.

      • by lonecrow (931585)
        Well....if I did something significant in Anonymous's name, that *they* did not agree with....I assume *they* would find a way to deal with me.

        So if Sony was hacked by someone else, I imagine that Anon is working on exposing them or otherwise melting there cores.
    • In regards to the Sony hack which Anonymous supposedly denies, if Anonymous is leaderless, isn't it pretty much impossible to say whether or not they did something? Can't anybody claim to be Anonymous and do what ever they want? I assume for anything Anonymous does there are some people who consider themselves members who disagree, so does that mean Anonymous didn't do it?

      Either "Anonymous" is useful to the powers that be (i.e. it's a CIA/NSA/whatever plot) or soon we'll see someone arrested for terrorism o

    • by makubesu (1910402)
      Nonsense, I can define what anonymous does in two words: nothing noteworthy.
    • This isn't meant as a critique of Anonymous, but without leaders or hierarchy it's pretty much impossible to define what it is or what it does.

      You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Anonymous the hacktivist group wouldn't steal credit cards. It's not in their interests. Anyone who would identify with Anonymous' activism has no reason or motivation to steal personal information. However, such an organization provides the perfect scapegoat, as is shown with the Sony hack and a supposed text file with "We are legion", an Anonymous phrase, being left on one of the servers.

    • Re:Sony Hack (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:55PM (#36099102) Homepage

      You are over-thinking it. It is simple.

      Anyone can be anonymous, but not everyone is Anonymous. An action performed by a member of Anonymous, is not the same as an action by Anonymous. Think of it as a gestalt -it is not, until at some undefined point, it is.

      There are leaders within Anonymous. Just because they are not part of a hierarchy does not mean they do not exist. No one appointed them, no one elected them, but others followed them. Leading is not the same as ruling.

      • If you have seen the Anime Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, that description is almost a word-for-word description of the Laughing Man. An interesting show, that. Delves into the subject of a cyber identity. Plus, like any other Anime, it has a lead woman in a tight outfit.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No one appointed them, no one elected them, but others followed them. Leading is not the same as ruling.

        +1 Gets It.

      • This. Perfect description imo.
    • by SixGame (1565287)
      I think it's a function of any collective that requires no membership; it merely requires someone to self-identify as part of it. I could claim to be muslim and commit horrible acts, but I'm simply a microcosm of the overall collective. Even condemning the individual through some unofficial hierarchy isn't a powerful enough message to separate the self-identifying member from the collective. A loose collective's behavior/perspective then is only in context as a whole, and is not reliant on single individu
    • Anyone can claim to be a member of Anonymous, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are. Even though Anonymous doesn't have a defined leader, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have specific membership. If someone is not in contact with the preexisting members of Anonymous and claims to be acting on their behalf, then the person claiming to be Anon is just appropriating the name.

      That is a different situation than if an existing member does something that runs contrary to the will of the group. That seems
      • by anonymov (1768712)

        How do you define "membership in Anonymous"? Where can I apply to get my member card?

        What are those "Anonymous' activities" that are consistently on hacktivism side?

        Do you equate some AnonOps or 4chan or whatever else with Anonymous and "Anonymous' activities"?

        I've seen anonymous willingly go raiding social nets and brute-force hacking accounts on dating sites, were those "Anonymous' activities", and were they on the "hacktivism" side of the computer crimes spectrum than the "for-profit crime" side?

        You're j

        • How do you define "membership in Anonymous"? Where can I apply to get my member card?

          Anonymous is a community. Participation in that community amounts to membership. Stop being obtuse.

          What are those "Anonymous' activities" that are consistently on hacktivism side?

          The afore mentioned HBGary hack is one. The DDOS attacks against perceived enemies of Wikileaks are another. I could go on. Note that I did mention that Anonymous' actions are crimes. I don't condone the methods or actions of Anonymous; I was just rejecting the original Parent's argument that Anonymous is so amorphous that it is "impossible to define" as he or she put it.

          Do you equate some AnonOps or 4chan or whatever else with Anonymous and "Anonymous' activities"?

          I've seen anonymous willingly go raiding social nets and brute-force hacking accounts on dating sites, were those "Anonymous' activities", and were they on the "hacktivism" side of the computer crimes spectrum than the "for-profit crime" side?

          There's a distinction between people wh

    • That's the fun on all the matters involving anonymous.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Anonymous began by revendicating crimes it did not commit (the 'attack' of the scientology servers that DDoSed themselves by hosting a video of Tom Cruise saying how awesome the church was). When will people understand that anything that Anonymous "says" can not be taken seriously ? That is the core of the concept !
    • Terrorists do just fine with limited to no leadership...

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:13PM (#36099296)
    Anonymous is like a one time pad in cryptography. Even if you manage to find a key that decodes the message into something legible, you will never know if you have the right key because in theory, any given message can be reproduced. Anonymous is like that. The minute you think you have it pinned down you realize that in fact it was something else - because it is not an "organization". Rather it is a "disorganization".
    • by lennier (44736)

      Anonymous is like a one time pad in cryptography.

      In other words, without the secret decoder ring, it's nothing but a sequence of random gibberish into which anyone can read any message or ideology they want.

      And you can never know if you have the secret decoder ring or not.

      How exactly is this going to achieve... well, anything?

    • so, Anonymous is like a hipster? Once you've figured it out, it's too late!

    • by eriks (31863)

      Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:13PM (#36099300)

    Want to have some fun with the media? Tell them about "anonymous" ftp two decades ago, then tell them about the "anonymous" FTP over email services circa 1991, that'll confuse the heck out of them.

  • What's to Know? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926)

    It's a mob. Bound by no principals except what they happen believe at the moment.

  • by Jeek Elemental (976426) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:17PM (#36099346)

    I dont think its right to say anonymous is not organized, it seems extremely democratic to me, especially the dos attacks.
    If you suggest a course of action and it resonates then it is anonymous, if it gets no support then its just you.

    Regarding sony I would wager what happened was during the anonymous dos attack someone peeked at the defenses and went holy crap its wide open,
    and went back alone.
    IE the initial anonymous attack probably did uncover the vulnerable network but the hack was not by anonymous.

    • it seems extremely democratic to me

      what exactly is democratic here? I don't see it. please elaborate.

      • Well, as I understand, the dos attacks are done by individuals targeting the LOIC program at the proposed target.
        The strength of the attack then is directly proportional to the number of "votes" it gets.

        • that's just a critical mass. If there were a group named Anonymous with a democratic structure, then there would be a leader that facilitates discussions, proposals for actions, and yea or nay votes on the proposals. none of these are the case. Sucinctly: "democratic" != "mob mentality"
          • there is a form of leadership etc. in irc channels, but I dont think that concerns the democratic aspect.
            Its not mob mentality because whoever chooses to participate is anonymous to other participants aswell as the target.

  • We are anonymouse. We ar- wait shit!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Pay no attention to the man with the UID and the spelling problems, as he clearly is not anonymous.
  • if you were to analyze anonymous's larger domain of overlapping grievances, you would characterize what anonymous is about. and you would also describe the motivation that brings people together under the banner of anonymous. this list of grievances can accurately described as internet freedoms

    so, for example, anonymous has nothing to do with islamic militant fundamentalism, which, like anonymous, is also largely organic in nature and self-organizing around a set of grievances. now let's say, just for the c

  • The Scientology connection to Anonymous was something I predicted in a scientology lawsuit deposition clear back in 1996.

    Henson: well it comes off the recreation budget. [He is making fun of this expensive lawyer, and it's getting Lieberman's goat.] This is training for the big action, Henson says. Lieberman takes the bait: What's that?

    Henson: when some major government finally decides to really sit down hard on free speech on the net.

    Lieberman spends a few minutes in a halfheart

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