[This is a guest post by Gabriella Coleman. Gabriella is an assistant professor in the Dept of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. Her work examines the politics of digital media.]
So one of the reasons I was motived to write a post about the aesthetics of Anonymous was due, in part, to some problematic representations of the phenomenon in the mainstream press. The Guardian, in their latest article on Anonymous, managed again to offer up what is at best a crime-show television grasp of reality, when it comes to social communicative norms in digital spaces. I know that sounds especially harsh but I guess since I was misquoted, this time it is now personal.
One of the reporters emailed me letting me know he enjoyed the Savage Minds post and asked some questions, which I answered but none of that material made it in there. They instead provide this summary of my “position” providing a link to an Atlantic piece I wrote last week. They write:
Members of the group and outside experts such as Gabriella Coleman, a New York University professor who has studied Anonymous, estimate that up to 1,000 people are members of the broader network, who make their computers available to co-ordinated cyber attacks.
The irony is that my article they link to actually deconstructs the idea of a group and members. So they use language of groups and members that I otherwise challenge in the piece they link to!! Also the numbers do not match at all: I never ever told them that up to 1,000 people are members of the broader network. The Atlantic mentions that thousands were involved, again not using a language of members or group. As to the theme of the article—hierarchy–to be sure, the issue of leaders and power must be interrogated and there have bee discussions of this very topic among some Anonymous, but I would hardly call it a rigid hierarchy much less characterize it as some “group” where 1% hold the power and the other 99% are useless chaff.
You can read more about how some of anon has received the piece here.