: New: Book Report: Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous

It's a book about the social movement Anonymous. That's a tricky thing to write about because anyone can be part of it. I could don a Guy Fawkes mask and declare that Anonymous' new purpose was constructing gimmicky crossword puzzles. That would be a legit thing to do, publishing puzzles with an anonymous byline. But I probably wouldn't have much luck convincing other members of Anonymous to join that effort; years later, folks wouldn't think of that as part of Anonymous' bag of tricks or what-have-you. This book talks about a few occasions when some savvy Anonymous folks worked together to accomplish extraordinary things.
…And so, when assessing Anonymous, it seems impossible to arrive at a universal—much less neat-and-tidy—maxim regarding the group's effects. Instead, I have tried to relay the lessons of Anonymous by narrating its exploits, failures, and successes. These compiled stories are idiosyncratic and told from the vantage point of my personal travels and travails. There are so many untold and secret tales that, were they publicized, would likely shift our comprehension of Anonymous. While all social life and political movements are complex, even convoluted, displaying endless facets and dimensions, Anonymous' embrace of multiplicity, secrecy, and deception makes it especially difficult to study and comprehend.

Anonymous has done some great things. When Scientologists attacked folks, Anonymous struck back. We're all less likely to be beat up by Scientology thugs thanks to Anonymous. Anonymous has done some awful things. Some Anonymous folks, thinking the movement had become too do-goody, hacked a message board for epileptics and posted seizure-inducing graphics on it.

Most of what I already knew about Anonymous, I had learned from the news. I learned things from this book.

I'd thought that the whole point of Anonymity was so that members could commit crimes (for good causes) without getting arrested; I was wrong. It's also a way to avoid ego-games that plague other social movements. How many groups have done stupid things because some weenie thought "As long as we're doing this, I'll be the expert and thus I'll stay in charge and be important!"? Maybe(?) there's less of that BS if that "importance" is attached to a code name and not someone's real-world name. E.g., Donald Trump wouldn't join Anonymous since that wouldn't boost the Trump name. Anonymity doesn't get rid of all folks who seek control for control's sake; but it does thusly avoid some large categories of them. Several Anonymous folks joined the Occupy movement, with expertise and enthusiasm for bootstrapping organization.

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