studying primitive cultures
January 25, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I did it for the Lulz! but I stayed for the outrage (direct mp3 link) An anthropologist talks about Anonymous.

Yes, that anonymous. Courtesy of MIT's wonderful CMS Colloquium Podcast.
posted by LiteOpera (15 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably too long to generate any real discussion. It could probably stand to be supplemented with a transcript, or some text articles.

But with that said... it's actually pretty reasonable, even handed stuff. Usually this stuff misses the mark, and I think she did a good job with her analysis.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:04 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is no requirement for discussion when making a FPP. Just having this shared is great. Thanks!
posted by hippybear at 1:54 PM on January 25, 2011

Does this exist somewhere as a video?
posted by tragedy at 2:03 PM on January 25, 2011

They video some of these things, but I couldn't find a video version of this particular one. Then again, it's pretty recent and maybe they just haven't uploaded it yet.
posted by LiteOpera at 2:08 PM on January 25, 2011

posted by Sticherbeast at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2011

Really needs a video, as she references slides.
posted by Catblack at 3:01 PM on January 25, 2011

here is the video
posted by dkg at 4:44 PM on January 25, 2011

Nice. Coleman is absolutely one of the tip-top sharpest people studying online culture. I've learned a lot from her work, even more from talking to her, and still more from her generosity in identifying and recommending good work by others.

More Coleman goodness:

paper on free-software hacker ethics

interview on Wikileaks and online activism, among other things

blog post on observing Anonymous as an anthropologist

blog post on Wikileaks and hacker culture

overview of her class on hackers and hacker politics


She's been working on a draft of a book manuscript based in part on her excellent dissertation, so there will be more.
posted by grimmelm at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2011 [9 favorites]

Totally rhizomatic, man!

The audio is kind of hard to follow with her constantly referring to visual images she's showing.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

here is a direct download link which is in the source, but apparently not visible. I prefer downloading lectures and talks so I can play them back at a higher speed with VLC.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on January 25, 2011

er, actually the download link is visible, I meant to edit that comment before posting. Oh well
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on January 25, 2011

Great talk. I don't know if I agree with her description of hacker values as liberal, though, as many of the actions she talks about either disregard the State entirely or actively work against the interests of the State (a neo-illegalism, if you will). Although, of course, that's probably more a consequence of democratic organization more than of the actual motivations of the people involved.
posted by cthuljew at 8:24 PM on January 25, 2011

I enjoyed the talk (mp3) that Coleman and MeFi's own Finn Brunton gave at The Next HOPE this past summer. Haven't listened to this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Thanks, LiteOpera.
posted by twirlip at 12:21 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think that one questioner, who asks if she means libertarian, brought out the right response. She responds that it's a spectrum from mutual aid anarchism to classical liberalism. I'd have to say my experience with Anonymous has shown them heavily skewed to the former. This may not be true of the hacker ethic generally, especially not in some of the incarnations she mentions, for example the major free software projects GNU & Debian.
posted by LiteOpera at 3:36 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Great talk. Found it interesting how Scientology is considered the "ideal target" or inverse of anonymous. I think it's very true and many would agree, but why?
Anonymous seems to find itself drawn to anything that takes itself too seriously, for one (ie Oprah.)
Secondly the whole "information is free" is obviously an opposite to Scientology rationing information to it's members as a method of control/establishing power.
Anonymous is inherently reactive, a sort of warped filter for modern culture and society, all highly media savvy and cynical, while Scientology is an artificially created cultural construct, forced arbitrarily into existence.
When I think of Anonymous I always imagine them as pure iconoclasts, bordering on nihilists. Nothing should be taken seriously, nothing can be proven, anyone who says they know should be exposed as a fraud. Power distorts the truth and if there is one thing the mob is effective at, it is tearing down false idols and prophets.
I would say that within that defined group of cynics there are two divisions, the realists who see the current "system" as flawed but generally stable, which can be adjusted slightly over time, and the anarchists and libertarians who see the flaws of the "system" as indicative of the need to overthrow or reduce government to a bare minimum.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 10:43 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

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