Our Weirdness is Free by Gabriella Coleman - a review of this

There are several important aspects central to this article:

  • Anonymous has no consistent philosophy or political program - it’s commitment is to anonymity and also free flow of information. What started as a network of online trolls has  become a force for good in the world, a defense for free speech, much like social bandits of this century.
  • The ‘spirit of lulz’ can be used to describe this group - where lulz is the pleasures attained from generating and sharing jokes and memes via it’s fast network. These can be humorous or shocking events and images to attract media attention, while binding together the collective group and also injecting new energies into its spirit. But at times causing a sense of unease among people as they invade our world, whenever they feel the urge, wreaking havoc in pursuit of lulz.
  • Anonymous has a fluid membership, giving it a huge advantage over more traditional corporations. It can act faster through it’s large feral networks and expert online hackers.
  • Anonymous is not a united front, but more a rhizome, comprising of numerous networks and working groups - which are often at odds with each other.
  • Anonymous has succeeded in spreading it’s message through every media channel possible.
  • Anonymous manages to achieve amazing levels of visibility as a group, but with individual invisibility at same time, while demanding complete transparency from state or corporate enterprises.
  • the group is described by coleman as ‘faint figures lurking in the shadows’

  This reading resonated with me because of:

  • the fluid non structured membership - allowing freedom to engage or not.
  • the many ‘arms’ of this group that can function separately or collectively - providing many ways to be part of a larger collective.
  • the defense for freedom of speech - even though there is such a thing as freedom of speech, many times this appears to be only available, as long as your ‘speech’ supports what is being discussed.
  • the quest for honest and open flow of information
  • exposure of often corrupt or morally wrong practices - the world is filled with this and the exposure of these practices is important for our moral compas

Wikileaks would be another group that operates in a similar way to Anonymous. They to are an online based, not for profit group. With the aim to publish secret and classified information from anonymous sources. The biggest difference to Anonymous is that Wikileaks is lead by a known person, Julian Assange. Because of recent accusations against Assange, Wikileaks has been effectively immobilized and stopped in its efforts to expose. The approach of Wikileaks is ore one of leaking documents to the wider public, rather than disrupt through cyber attacks or other disruptions, like ordering hundreds of unpaid pizza’s to the business under attack, like Anonymous. Consensus is present between these 2 groups through their approach about open communication and free speech. Much of the approach of Anonymous I like, as I am all for freedom of speech, free and open communications, sharing of resources, honesty and integrity, but I feel at times their methods appear to be going beyond their spirit of lulz.

  • They feel like a cross between Robin Hood and your local gang member. As the ‘Robin Hood‘ they are providing the many of us with information about questionable practices; taking from the ‘rich’ (those in charge) and handing it to the ‘poor’ (the under dog, the hard labourer doing all the work). While as the ‘local gang member’ they attack those ‘they’ see as being the top dog, the one holding all the cards. The attacks can be very personal, not just company oriented.

Some of the issues raised relate to my practice and belief systems, such as:

  • Open and honesty about what is happening with our food - what are big companies doing to our food that they are feeding us? Who controls the ‘food’ we eat, purchase or even grow?
  • I believe our intimate relationship to the natural world is slowly lost through industrialization, monetary policies and lack of rural incentives. Losing touch with the plants we need to survive, not only for eating but also for our oxygen supply is a vital flaw we are all going to pay for heavily I believe as the world struggles to sustain itself and our way of living.

We are what we say and do, in our public and private life’s. Having a strong sense of integrity and honesty makes not only for a better world for yourself, but also for those around you.  

Posted by Elle Anderson

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