Earlier this month, 5,000-plus members of Anonymous crashed the FBI’s website and websites run by the MPAA, the RIAA, and Universal Music. It was the collective’s largest coordinated attack so far. And again, it raised the question: What, and who, is Anonymous?
Some of the best explanations come from Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist (and NYU professor) who’s been following the group since 2008. In a new Web essay for Triple Canopy, Coleman distills the bulk of her research, casting a pretty clear light onto the inner workings of a secretive and (more to the point) super-decentralized organization. “How and why has the anarchic ‘hate machine’ been transformed into one of the most adroit and effective political operations of recent times?” Coleman asks, and she gets us quite close to the answers.
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