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The Aims of Anonymous

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WikiLeaks may be a small player, really, in the bigger scheme of things. But to some degree it is also a bellwether, a forecast of things to come as information and technology continue to nip at the heels of the state. Perhaps we really are approaching a time when government becomes less relevant, less necessary, where other institutions both real and virtual can begin to supplant the role of the state in our lives, subversively at first but then more openly as time passes.

-- Erik Kain, Secrecy and the State

There is no period in human history that matches the years between 1990 and 2010 in the degree to which the common terminology used at end would have been unrecognizable to those who lived at its beginning. Because the dynamic which has caused this to be the case does not seem to have crested, we ourselves should not expect to recognize some great portion of the terminology that will be in regular use in 2030. It is even possible that 2030 will be as different from 2010 as 2010 is from 1990, although this would quite a feat; the central dynamic by which each of several billion people may now communicate and collaborate with any of those other several billion people has already been established, and all that remains now is for more of those people to realize the implications of this and then act upon those implications, as they have already begun to do, even if the media at large is still having trouble with the former.

I will have a lot more to say in this vein presently as my main focus for the last several years has been emergent internet dynamics in general and Anonymous and Wikileaks in particular, but for now I'll have to confine myself to providing an overview of what's been happening over the past few days and what will be happening next.

The other day I mentioned in passing that I've long been in communication with a certain fellow who, along with a couple of other individuals, launched Operation Chanology in an effort to bring wider attention to the malevolence and misconduct of the Church of Scientology. This was the first global effort of its sort, and despite the successful prosecution of a small percentage of participants, it was in many ways a great success (not least of which because it's not entirely over). This person, Gregg Housh, kept his identity secret until such time as the CoS tracked him down and began legal proceedings; having been outed anyway, he's lately become a sort of go-to guy for those media which find themselves in need of someone who can relay a sense of what Anonymous is all about (he's had 29 interview requests over the last 24 hours and will be appearing on CNN tomorrow), having so far this week gone on Canadian television and been interviewed for a New York Times piece on that latter organization, which became an ally of his own a while back when it agreed to host stolen church documents.

I'd already been talking to Housh more than usual over the last few days due to the death of our mutual friend Sean Carasov, who was also caught and prosecuted by the CoS. A couple days back he told me he was unhappy with the NYT interview, particularly in light of a new attack on Mastercard and Paypal by another "branch" of Anonymous with which he is not in contact.

I interviewed with Ravi Somaiya tonight (Sunday December 5th.)  He wanted to know about Anonymous and the new call to action where they have sided with Wikileaks.  I said I could get him the answers.  I made it clear that I did not have anything to do with it and that I was not going to.  Which I will not.  Not because I dont believe in what they are doing, but because I have had my share of run ins with the law and am not going to risk anything big right now.  He (Ravi) made it clear that he understood that and then asked me about how he should mention me.  We agreed that he would say that I was just someone who had taken part in anonymous action in the past.  Specifically that he would simply call me an activist.
Instead of doing what he said he would, he threw me under the bus.  The article reads as if I am somehow part of the group of people orchestrating the action.  Which I am not, and will not be.  I am also not in contact with them (whoever they might be) and will not be.

Just for the record, Gregg and I both think that this was the result of an editing error; Somaiya was very apologetic afterward, and the online version has been fixed. I mention this not just because Housh wanted to clarify his involvement for the record, but also because it goes to the heart of the difficulties that many media outlets have had in trying to get a handle on this culture and its unstructured nature, which I'll also have more to say about it later.

Housh just notified me a few minutes ago as of this writing that the same small group that launched Chanology -- also via a YouTube video announcement -- has just now put up another one concerning the various violent threats against Wikileaks and Julian Assange as well as their intent to take action on the matter. By way of another clarification, although Housh was in the IRC channel in which this was conceived and created by his longtime partners, he was too busy doing interviews at the time to lend a hand.

A moment ago I asked Housh what this meant in terms of what we can expect from his corner of the Anonymous movement, as well as from the other makeshift "cells."

Keep letting targets present themselves, and then attack, is what it seems to be right now.

Presumably I'll have more to relate in the coming days.