Anonymous—that highly-controversial, nebulous, post-activism activism group making headlines for everything from Scientology takedowns, to digital attacks on the information servers of Visa and Mastercard, to the recent protests of Wall Street—is getting a book, the Observer has learned. But what’s it called, and who will write it?
The working title is Tales From Inside The Accidental Cyberwar. The not-so-anonymous Gregg Housh and Barrett Brown will be writing it.
Mr. Housh is a former tech consultant who became the unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous since early 2008. Mr. Brown is a journalist who has written for Vanity Fair and The Guardian, among others who became an unofficial spokesman for Anonymous of sorts (prior to “quitting“).
The Observer also heard the agent behind the proposal was Dan Conaway at Writer’s House.
When reached by phone for quote, Barrett Brown referred to Mr. Conaway for quote. Mr. Conaway spoke to the Observer by phone, and confirmed the title, proposal, and authors.
“We’re in the middle right now of two full days of meeting with a variety of publishers,” the agent explained. As to how he came across the authors: “I’ve been aware of Gregg for some time, and the work of Anonymous, of course; he was referred to me by another client.”
Mr. Conaway noted that Gregg Housh “has been closely involved with Anonymous for a long time, and once he was outed during the Scientology op and essentially lost his anonymity, he became kind of a de facto go to guy for the press.” Mr. Conaway was also emphatic about his client’s role within the organization: “He is categorically not a spokesman for Anonymous, but he’s one of the few people associated with Anonymous whose name is known in the press, and as a commentator to the media looking for a better understanding of what Anonymous is doing.”
The Observer reached Mr. Housh by phone as he was sitting down to lunch in front of what he characterized as an extraordinarily large sandwich. “We’ve had a few meetings, and I think they’ve gone pretty well, he explained. “The proposal is the proposal and I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no experience with the publishing industry,” he laughed. As for the book, Mr. Housh noted that it would detail the origins of his involvement with Anonymous, and explain what they do in a way that will reach a wide audience, as opposed to a technical manual. He wanted to write, he explained, a page-turner.
“I personally think it’s a way to reach the masses,” compared to the recent Wall Street protests of Anonymous. “Look at the few people out there. That’s really the number of people we have available to us to go to the streets.” An authoritative book would make the organization and its activism accessible beyond media coverage and, among other things, those other books on the matter, Mr. Housh noted, as he bemoaned the dearth of accurate information on the subject. “A lot of books about Anonymous—Cole Stryker’s being one of them—there were some sentences that were correct, but that’s about about it.”
Writer Cole Stryker’s Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web was released earlier this year. Mr. Stryker’s subjects, the denizens of —known for everything from punishing pranksterism to punishing hacking to punishing digital activism—were also not necessarily ecstatic at the book, publishing his apartment number and signing him up for an Indian Matrimonial Site.
Mr. Housh characterized the ambition of the proposed book as one that extends beyond simply having a bestseller. “I think if we can get the story told properly,” he explained, “they [readers] might think, ‘Maybe if some dude from Boston can do some stuff, maybe I can do some stuff.’ That’s the idea.”
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