Gabriella Coleman, one of the preeminent researchers of “Hacker” culture and of the nebulous group known as “Anonymous” has published an excellent paper describing the history, origins and and elements of the group. She correctly places the seminal nexus of the group in the various imageboards centered on 4chan.org (and the previous “trolling” groups of somethingawful.com). Importantly, she incorporates the role of various IRC chat rooms as being influential in the development of the activist character that the group took on in the wake of their operations against the Church of Scientology, a character which further developed during the response to the wikileaks blockade, where Anons ddos’d major credit card companies and paypal, and through the “Arab Spring”, during which an interesting internationalist attitude and user base developed.
My only qualms with her characterization of the group is that she does not explicitly state the nature of anonymous as a discardable identity- something assumed by various actors for various purposes to be left behind as soon as its utility is finished. She concentrates on the groups that clung most tightly to the image, while the actual ecosystem of actors using the common identity and ideological schema was much more diverse than the self proclaimed “Anons”. Anonymous was in many ways simply a convenient mask to be worn for political action.
Dan Gifford – MCySec Media Manager