Who is (are) Anonymous? (2 items)

Here are two pieces. The second one is by my colleague, Gabriella Coleman.

MCM

Anonymous cyberwarriors stun experts
By Tim Bradshaw, Mary Watkins and Joseph Menn

Internet subcultures rarely make front page news. But when the mysterious forces of Anonymous took it upon themselves to attack opponents of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, their success took everyone – not least victims such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal – by surprise.

This year has seen military and security experts often warn about the prospects of “cyberwarfare”. Few expected the most prominent assaults against large companies to come from a scattered group of anarchists and idealists with no identifiable leader, membership or nationality.

Read more.

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What It’s Like to Participate in Anonymous’ Actions
by Gabriella Coleman

Anonymous, who have been on a week long sprint/spree to paralyze website sites like Mastercard and Paypal, are often described in the news as a “group” with “members.” This is usually followed by a series of prolonged qualifications and caveats because many characteristics we usually associate with groups don’t seem to apply comfortably with Anonymous: there are no leaders, anyone can seemingly join, and participants are spread across the globe, although many of them can be found on any number of Internet Relay Chat Channels where they discuss strategy, plan attacks, crack jokes, and often pose critical commentary on the unfolding events they have just engendered. Earlier this week, The Economist listened in on the IRC channels, opening a fascinating window into the order behind the seeming chaos of Anonymous and providing a sense of how the Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks are coordinated by a trusted group of Ops who leverage the labor of thousands of other contributors.

Read more.

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