“Building a Better Anonymous” Series: Part 5

Posted: 2012/04/12 in Anonymous
A contemplative Anon (Artwork by Mar - sudux.com)

A contemplative Anon (Artwork by Mar - sudux.com)

Building a Better Anonymous – Philosophy

By Josh Corman & Brian Martin

2012

If you are new to this series, please begin with Part 0 and the index.

NOTE: We will post each installment here for the security industry to garner feedback for about one week prior to posting to Forbes.com and a more mainstream and business readership. Please comment toward improving/clarifying the content.

Acknowledgements

Today, Anonymous is both an identity / meme and a “group” / organizational construct (albeit amorphous and decentralized). The focus below is not to enhance or augment the identity / meme, but rather the latter. Adopting such enhancements will involve trade-offs – as everything does. The authors believe many of the current Anons (or would-be-anons) yearn for a larger impact, a better batting average, and to mitigate several complications inherent in the current approach (some of which were explored in Part 4).

When we define a “better anonymous” we realize that this may apply to as few as zero of its current participants. It is entirely possible that such an instantiation could emerge in ten years or with people currently unwilling to join the existing ranks. If it helps the reader, picture this “better Anonymous” under a different name, taking place five years from now, and sharing no members with current manifestations. While we do believe these refinements and enhancements can and would be of benefit to today’s manifestation(s) of Anonymous, this is immaterial to the following points.

Since no one “owns” Anonymous, and since its ranks are so diverse in ideology and motivational structures, it is best to judge the following ideas on their own merits – rather than expressing personal preference (positive or negative) for what the increasingly ill-fitting “they” would or wouldn’t like. Some of them will agree – some will be indifferent – and some will find these concepts detestable.

For these reasons (and others), we also expect the possibility of plural groups over time – with plural charters. Put another way, this installment may be less about building a replacement for Anonymous, but rather – “building better Anonymi” – especially where ideological and topical schisms reveal themselves.

Laying a New Foundation

In Leviathan, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature as a state of war. Paraphrasing slightly:

The state of nature is a state of war… “and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

In contrast, John Locke considered the state of nature to be a state of inconvenience and inefficiency. Where they agreed is that out of rational selfish-interest, people must form social contracts to escape the limits of the state of nature.

To date, Anonymous has enjoyed its more chaotic lack of structure, openness, low barrier to entry, and other features. The downside of this has been an upper bounds of effectiveness, a lower batting average, a muddied focus, “brand damage”, arrests – and even catalyzing escalation with law enforcement, legislators, and other forces of “control”. As we’ve said, if not careful, Anonymous could help cause the very things they fear/oppose.

The authors believe that the current state is either untenable or of limited impact in the long run. To this we offer the following “three steps” as a straw man of “organized chaos” for consideration and dialectic, or debate. We argue that such an approach would, on the whole, improve the impact and mitigate several current challenges.

  1. Statement of belief, values, objectives, and first principles – i.e. WHY you have come together
  2. Code of conduct and operational parameters – i.e. HOW you conduct your pursuit of your common goals
  3. A plan for streamlining success, increasing potency, and mitigating risks – i.e. WHAT will make you more successful

We will outline these three below for those who see themselves as “Chaotic Good” – as a sample use case. We will then directly link how such a system would mitigate several of today’s Anonymous challenges identified in Part 4.

#1: Statement of beliefs, values, objectives, and first principles (WHY)

To repeat, a mentor once told me:

“If you believe something, you should write it down. The more important the belief, the more critical it is that you are precise and clear in its articulation.”

Core to any meaningful group or endeavor is your purpose. Why have you come together? What are your beliefs? What are your values? What do you hope to change? What are your essential “first principles”?

For Martin Luther, it was nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church – sparking the Protestant Reformation to separate from what he saw as an increasingly corrupt Catholic Church. For Martin Luther King, Jr., this was the vision expressed in “I have a dream“.

It is a common purpose that binds movements together. Ad hoc bonds can be weaker bonds, but bonds formed in shared values and shared beliefs are not as easily broken. Commitment to shared purpose and objectives can serve to strengthen the resolve, staying power, and impact of those involved.

Historically, Anonymous has been ambiguous about what it stands for. Sure, there have been some more dominant themes but… too many of them. This has lead to a sort of stimulus diffusion in which ideas have been passed between people, but without the blueprint or foundation. Such diffusion can lead to an idea being refined and improved upon, or misunderstood and re-built as a hideous form of the original.

When everything is important, nothing is. Zen wisdom tells us, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither”. To reach critical mass, perhaps Anonymous needs a period of “valuable ambiguity”. To overcome its current limitations, smaller splinters may need to rally around fewer objectives, better. These splinters may not be instead of the “general population” of Anonymous, but for greater impact with less collateral damage and backlash; it may prove to be a logical necessity. For some, this personal recognition has already come. Such splinter groups may also serve another purpose; by focusing on more specific goals, the personal desires and reasons for involvement of each member are more likely to be met.

Here are some lines that a “Chaotic Good” group who cared about free speech and anti-censorship might hold:

  • We believe in free speech for all.
  • We reject attempts to control or limit free speech online.
  • We aim to be a watchdog for the citizens of the net; to identify, expose, and rally resistance to legislation and special interests, which threaten these rights.
  • We believe free speech applies to everyone – especially when we do not agree with it.
  • When governments take access from their people, we will help to re-supply them with alternative access and vehicles to these basic rights.

Benefits of writing down why your group exists are numerous. First, you will attract more like-valued, and potentially more talented members. These beliefs will be the foundation of any brand to the rest of the world. It will give the group focus in the short term, and as time moves on it will give you the backbone to resist mission drift and spreading yourselves too thin. It is also your primary defense against the brand damage of False Flag operations done in your name. Further, such segmentation can insulate the group from any harm done by less aligned (and maybe less noble) members of the currently shared melting pot, general population of “Anonymous”.

When choosing your foundational beliefs and values, choose wisely.

#2: Code of conduct and operational parameters (HOW)

A “code” is not new to groups. For example, there is the bushido code way of samurai, honor among thieves, the pirate code (more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules)… and countless others that dominate both history and popular culture.

The hitman/cleaner in “Léon: The Professional” had a rule; “No women. No kids.”

In Fight Club: “The 1st rule of Fight Club is, do not talk about Fight Club”.

In The Transporter, “Rule #3: Never open the package.”

A code of conduct and explicit statement of operational parameters has benefits. Building upon the prior foundation of your statement of beliefs, your defined “how” will both attract like valued participants – and repel the opposite. Such statements will help to win the court of public opinion, both in establishing your “brand” and in defending it from pretenders and False Flags. Infiltrators would be more constrained to these narrower methods and False Flags would look anomalous in contrast.

A “code of conduct” actually has precedent within Anonymous. In fact, this may have been the origin of donning the Guy Fawkes mask. During the Project Chanology planning to take to the streets against the Church of Scientology, a video was posted outlining the code of conduct. Rule #17 was to cover your face to protect your identity. It just so happened that the visage from V for Vendetta was available and “top of mind”. Here are some lines that a “Chaotic Good” group who cared about free speech and anti-censorship might hold:

  • In all actions, we must take great care to prevent collateral damage – or to hurt innocents.
  • In our pursuit to promote free speech, it is critical that we do not impinge upon the free speech of others – even when we disagree with them.
  • We will conduct our operations within the bounds of the law, leveraging FOIA and open source information.
  • Much like Rosa Parks did as a last resort, and in rare cases, where transgression is required and righteous, it must be supported by our statement of beliefs and part of a pre-defined path of escalation.
  • We will NEVER {INSERT SCENARIO HERE}.

For readers that have played MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, you may recall the frequent statement from Blizzard Entertainment; “No Blizzard employee will EVER ask you for your password.” Note the utility of such an explicit, absolute statement. By making it, gamers can immediately spot imposters. Therefore, such statements can serve to mitigate some of the risk of False Flag operations and unsanctioned, brand damaging attacks done “in the name” of the more principled group.

One of the first examples of defining a code of conduct in “Hacktivism” activities can be found in a paper presented to Yale Law School by 0xblood Ruffin of the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) entitled “Hacktivism, From Here to There“; in which he states:

I began to formulate some hard and fast rules for hacktivist tactics. First, no Web defacements. If groups or individuals are lawfully entitled to publish content on the Web, any violation of their right to distribute information is an abridgement of their First Amendment [freedom of expression] rights. The same goes for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

While groups like the Electronic Disturbance Theatre (EDT) disagree about DoS, they simply wouldn’t join 0xblood or Hacktivismo due to a difference in ideology. Maintaining a code and mission statement may be, at times, prohibitive to gaining wide support, but honesty and integrity are important, even to an organization who must resort to criminal acts to achieve their goals at times.

#3: A plan for streamlining success, increasing potency, and mitigating risks (WHAT)

What will be the difference makers and secrets to greater impact? Here we will consider a few. For example, it is often smarter to do fewer things, better. Will your actions make you look like a BadAss or a DumbAss? How you are viewed in the court of public opinion can be a major success factor. Knowing what your want and stand for is critical, but remember: A goal without a plan is called a wish.

Less is More

As we’ve suggested, it is ideal to do fewer things better. Would you rather have a superficial impact on ten fronts, or a meaningful impact on one front? The very things that “need fixing” are almost by definition “non-trivial”. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If there are more ills to right, this simply may require more teams. Focusing on fewer fronts also allows more time and attention to be spent on each front. This would benefit operations that publish or leak information for example; rather than dumping gigabytes of information, time could be spent to pull out key pieces of interest.

Unlocking Your Inner BadAss

Another important factor is your potency and prowess. What’s more impressive to onlookers and adversaries, a fool shooting wildly – missing all targets? Or a sniper who makes every single bullet count; “One Shot. One Kill”. When a swordsman first takes up his blade, they may flail wildly and wastefully, but a master is more deliberate and deadly – with each stroke delivering the full impact of its intention. The true master may seldom need to draw his sword. While 2011 saw many Anonymous operations, there were several misses and/or mis-steps. Imagine instead a more potent group who seldom (if ever) misses and rejects more ops, for a better op – one that hits its targets without collateral damage. A pyro-maniac will torch everything – a pyro-technician will design and execute a targeted and effective “controlled burn“. An amateur will amputate, but the skilled surgeon will remove the tumor with precision.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Toward that end, a more potent group would do more strategizing and prep-work. When you’re taught carpentry or wood-working, most of us are equipped with the wisdom of “measure twice, cut once”. Preparation helps to avoid mistakes. Fewer mistakes conserves limited resources and helps to promote / preserve a more BadAss image to your supporters and adversaries. During the StratFor hacks in December of 2011, many criticized the “steal $1 million to give to charities” aspect of the operation – as disingenuous or naïve. Those charities did not get to keep the money, nor was that ever a possibility. Such visible/perceived mis-steps only hurt the groups brand in the court of public opinion – and are avoidable with better planning on fewer operations. For other operations, why risk arrest and incarceration to steal information that was readily obtained through a FOIA request?

Finger on the Pulse

Finally, the “court of public opinion” matters. In studying the myriad of Anonymous and LulzSec operations throughout 2011, one could watch a volatile ascension and decline of support for Anonymous depending upon how noble (or ignoble) an operation was. The good will formed from lawful enablement of Occupy Wall Street could be undone by an unnecessary or overly aggressive illegal operation from different ranks in the same week. One could almost plot public support like a stock ticker – or a presidential/job approval rating. While some may “not care”, the savvy will not only pay close attention to the “pH level” or “barometer” of public opinion, but will also seek to assure their brand and accuracy of media coverage and narrative are an asset (versus a liability). Further, gauging public perception allows you to respond, make adjustments, and improve future ops.

This is not to say popular opinion should rule the day. In our Defcon 19 Q&A after the panel, it was revealed to us that the press failed to understand or cover the more restrained / responsible hacks. Rather than investing the time to better explain their motives and decisions, Anonymous instead opted for louder and noisier ones, which a sensationalist press responded to. The sad, yet accurate, catch phrase of modern media holds; “If it bleeds, it leads”. Knowing this is the case, investment in getting the public perception and media involvement more “on point” will be a key factor in a group’s ultimate success. Perception is reality.

Conclusion and Validation

Building a better Anonymous must be done from the ground up, with a solid foundation to set the direction and tone of the group. Perhaps the best way to validate this idea and such a foundation is to consider it in the context of Part 4: Failing in Practice (aka Pyrrhic Practices). All four failures we outline would have benefited substantially had their been a well-defined foundation. The case of doing “more wrong than right” during opBART could have been avoided had Anonymous stuck to principles and followed a code of conduct. OpDarknet, which saw a single chaotic actor hurt the operation and brand, could have been easily disavowed as not following a published code of conduct. Texas Takedown Thursday could have enjoyed great success, albeit slower, through a series of legal FOIA requests and strategic leaks of information if hacking was deemed necessary. OpSatiagraha would have been streamlined and a more potent operation if only the significant emails were released and highlighted. Another benefit to all of this is that there is less time wasted creating public announcements taking credit for, or denying, operations. They will be much more evident from their actions.

Coincidentally, as we worked on this article, news broke about a new splinter group of Anonymous, called “Malicious Security” (MalSec). This news came with the group releasing a video that introduced the group and outlined their objectives. MalSec firmly states they believe in free speech, and stresses that any defacement would add text to a web site, but they would not delete content, to support this idea. Many may disagree with their activity of breaking into web servers, but in setting this foundation for the group, they are in a position to maintain their principles while disavowing anyone that attempts to tarnish their brand. This is basically the same thing that happened with LulzSec; they weren’t happy with Anonymous, split off for 50 days, formed a new charter, and operated under it.

We expect the above to be debated and discussed, but we also believe something along these lines will come as a logical necessity. If you could make a better Anonymous, an ominous anonymous perhaps, what would you build?

Copyright 2012 by Josh Corman and Brian Martin. Permission is granted to quote, reprint or redistribute provided the text is not altered, appropriate credit is given and a link to the original copy is included. Custom graphics courtesy of Mar - sudux.com.

Should you feel generous, please donate a couple of bucks on our behalf to any 501(c)(3) non-profit that benefits animals or computer security.

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Comments
  1. nice write up, well thought out, well articulated, and highly informed.. but complete fail. the choas is the strength. what you are suggesting, whether or not you realize it, is institutionalizing something whose very essence is lack of order, direction, and principle. when something matters enough, people will self organize.. there is no need to be organized “in general” when there is not something that matters enough. you are effectively suggesting a new government body – and look what happens to every government, every committee, every board, every formalized institution.. regardless of the appreciable values it is built upon.. corruption, imbalance, and abuse ensue. ad hoc ftw. some people are better at it. some aren’t. tough cookie.
    what is insuccessful about things as they are now? and according to who? the intent of anonymous is to be anonymous, and anonymous is exactly that. a “victory” in one persons eyes is always a failure in someone else’s, and vice versa. so drop your self-entitled elitist ego-centric view.
    it’s not for freedom. it’s not for rights. it’s not for activism. it’s for the fucking lulz. it’s for the chaos. choas manages itself in such a complexity that is beyond the reach of any formalized description. why the need to organize, structure, and formalize? are you scared of the chaos? do you need something lasting to hold onto and cherish? are you scared of wandering life with no home? do you need society to provide a safe, warm bed for you to sleep in at night? i bet you organize your photos into albums. i bet you prefer a structured file system. i bet you make backups. i bet you like things to be compartmentalized and structured and packed up nice and neat. i bet you hate exceptions to the rules. i bet english spelling and grammar pisses you off.
    step into the jungle, be a man. stop looking elsewhere for comfort. you will die like everyone else.
    every other species survives in the midst of the savage reach of nature. humans alone, through your above mentioned social contracts, have disrupted the organic lifecycle, ultimately disrupting life itself, because they are too weak and scared to embrace nature. so who is winning? nobody. we all will die, like everyone else. what will you have then?

    • Radguy says:

      You use terms such as “imbalance”. This leads to contentious value judgements of the kind that you criticised the authors of.

      The authors will hopefully have caring people to honour and bury them at the end.

      Your views seem a little nihilistic. Don’t be offended by this, it is a common response to the perceived problems that precipitate anonymous, as a result, anonymous will always have this trait. As we all reflect on these broad issues, we will learn to channel this anger in more productive ways. I see this chapter focussing precisely on this. In time you may find yourself explaining all of this to someone else.

      This new generation is fucking smart. They can read, write and communicate better than any other by orders of magnitude. Anyone who has toured \b\ or other chat areas realise this; despite the vulgarity, there are many minds learning and practicing the art of communication in unprecedented and often hilarious ways. This is evolution right before our own eyes. Truly amazing.

  2. Jericho says:

    nobody;

    we are not proposing that Anonymous gives up chaos. we recognize it has been integral in their history, development, and somewhat in their success. we are suggesting that they don’t leap to chaos as the first tool in the box every time. rather, that they use a path of defined escalation, where resorting to chaos is strategically chosen. we are not proposing a ‘new government’ by any standards; there is no leadership element that resembles a government body. with defined goals and code of conduct, that becomes the only governing body that doubles as a mechanism to disavow people/ops that are contradictory to Anonymous’ goals.

    what is insufficient? a lot, as we have outlined in previous articles. according to who[m]? us, analysts, civilians, law enforcement, and most importantly, members of Anonymous we have discussed this with. nothing we are suggesting would change the “being anonymous” part, it would strengthen it if anything.

    “it’s not for freedom…” that line suggests to me, that you are thinking of Anonymous more in the terms of LulzSec, not the greater whole, nor subsequent groups *like* Anonymous. we’re trying to speak to *all of those*, which is very difficult, for the reasons you outline. some are in it for activism, some for rights, some for freedom, and some for lulz.

    regarding the rest, it’s hard to take the criticism seriously at this point. we’re obviously not afraid of any of that. in fact, we’re discussing how to make Anonymous better. meaning, more effective, longer lasting, and effecting more positive change. the next article actually goes into details on how they can improve, that will make it *harder* to deal with them. if anything, that is embracing one aspect of chaos that they exhibit.

    “every other species survives in the midst of the savage reach of nature.” that is tragically false. thousands of extinct species would loudly disagree with you, if they had survived the savage reach of nature. until then, the simple Kiwi would argue with you I am sure. a living animal that would not have survived if it wasn’t for more structure and order that now protects them and helps them survive in a vastly different atmosphere than the one they evolved in.

  3. NASDAQEnema says:

    80% Chaos 20% Operation

    Every fixed decision is a stumbling block to another.

    Always use the banner in such a way that others may also continue using it.

    Cabin crew survived a crazy insane amount of attempts to divide us to shut us down and generally disorient us.

    They all failed because we all said to each other what would make us leave. Every Cabin rider and vessel that went along defined their terms.

    You are still trying to explain yourselves to the outside world.

    This is unnecessary, pointless, and self-defeating.

    You will have plenty of time to explain to each other what you are about when an operation occurs.

    There is nothing to gain from a fixed concept and much to lose.

    Know yourself. The minute you express it and declare it in public, you are also preventing yourself and others from learning and correcting future mistakes.

    There is no such thing as a good object, good idea, good plan.

    There is only good action and that includes being practical and timely.

    You cannot create good. You can only do good.

    Anonymous does not exist. You exist. Your actions exist. Anonymous is a convergence with a certain momentum.

    Not a group. Not a movement. Never was.

    Having said that, you have no idea how hard people will fight against a fixation of Anonymous to one thing. Might as well put chips inside our heads. We will not put up with it.

  4. 88 says:

    jerricho, if a species didn’t survive, then it really can’t say anything about survival, can it? nothing worth hearing. kiwis don’t talk.all other species accept nature and live and die and get extinct in nature without trying to enforce agreements on how to behave in such ways that go against their instinctive nature.
    “how to make Anonymous better. meaning, more effective, longer lasting, and effecting more positive change” sounds like clutching onto ideals. hoping for a standard. a baseline of truth. a static, simply-stated world view through which you give context to your thoughts.. there is no truth. there is no order. there is no organization. only people and their actions. if their actions align, so be it, and if not, who gives a damn.
    it seems that you are caught on the notion of some entity, some group. anonymous is not a group. it is a concept, and even that is over stating it and over confining it to some degree. you just don’t seem to get it. stop referring to anonymous as “they”, there is no they, it is everyone. everyone is an agent when you are in the matrix. you haven’t taken the pill yet..
    there is no better. there is no “more effective”. there is no objective. any faction you deem as “part of anonymous” need not last any longer than carrying out the purpose of its gathering.
    “positive change” is such a naive, self-centric, and short-sighted notion. positive according to you? according to law enforcement? according to so called members of this non-existent anonymous? what YOU are talking about is some sort of political or social agenda to reach a goal deemed best by its members’ standards. that is not what anonymous is. it’s not some peace mission freedom fighting idealism. it is the ability to gather facelessly when the need manifests, and to disband immediately after. it is the idea of organizing without organization, of leading without leadership, and aligning without alignment. democracy in its true ad hoc manner. only namefags with egos are members of anonymous.
    you have good concepts for organizing a body, but at the point that an organized body assumes an ONGOING generalized “purpose” and “set of values” and a “code of conduct”, etc etc – it isn’t Anonymous – it is a faction, regardless of what it calls itself. strategy, measuring, having a goal- good for individual ops, on an as-needed basis, but nothing to do with anonymous. mutual exclusion, my boy.
    what you need to see is that all these disparate factions you speak of are not anonymous, they are clandestine groups which perhaps align using the principels of anonymous, who cover themselves using anonymity, and who are deemed as part of the “loosely organized group of hackers known as Anonymous” by the stupid, sensational media.

  5. joshcorman says:

    Happy to see comments here and elsewhere.
    To make a few things clearer:

    If you think we don’t “get it”…
    …you may be right. We expect this. We approach this with humility. Help us get it “less wrong”. A large driver of starting this series, these panels and these conversations is because we don’t think the phenomenon is well understood. We see most of the world perceptions as flippant, off-base, superficial and at times (especially parts of the media) patently wrong about this phenomenon. With the time and analysis and care we’ve put into this series – we’re probably one of the best chances of others ever “getting it”. So, we’re open to the help and dialogue.

    Your peers who engaged us during our DefCon19 panel/Q&A found it refreshing and useful that they were better understood – and that we were willing to help others better understand. It is interesting that many of the things we were told we are wrong about, came from speaking with several long-time anons. We agree there is no monolithic “they”. One way this became clear is when we see how diverse the beliefs, values, and motivations of various anons can truly be.

    This isn’t Anonymous…
    …we acknowledged this may be true at the very top. We know these ideas will not sit well with many who currently identify with Anonymous. From above:

    “we realize that this may apply to as few as zero of its current participants. It is entirely possible that such an instantiation could emerge in ten years or with people currently unwilling to join the existing ranks. If it helps the reader, picture this “better Anonymous” under a different name, taking place five years from now, and sharing no members with current manifestations.”

    …and…
    We know that several within Anonymous have grown frustrated by many of the package-deal limitations/challenges of the current manifestations. They have expressed such frustrations and have appreciated much of the content in this complete series. We hope they too comment. Not everyone attracted to Anonymous the identity is as fulfilled as others. In one specific conversation, an anon expressed that the current ranks attract people who want something changed, but to advance their goals, they may to need either leave anonymous, or carve out more focussed pockets. These can be in-addition-to current anonymous, shrouded within it, or of wholly different names. If this isn’t for you… that doesn’t mean it isn’t for any.

    Regardless, thank you to all who engage and advance the dialogue and understanding.

    • Dr_AnonArchist says:

      I am quite interested in giving this a read later today. Some begin with “I’m not part of Anonymous, but…” and fill paragraph after paragraph of vile rubbish of what they have fantasized Anonymous to be in their heads (not just here). Baffling. Then there are those who have joined Anonymous (free membership, please sign up) and in some cases just can’t shut up about their activites as if there is a prize package for the most Twat followers/ number of defaces done and taunting (insert LEA) at the end of the day. I am seeing more and more open mistakes and errors that are potential life changers fairly regularly in social places that Anons gather.

      You want to understand Anonymous? One only has to look back to the Summer of 1976 on Kings Road, just outside where Vivian Westwood/Malcolm McLarens shop was. Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Soul Boys, and Punks. No Future. Not Then, Not Now. 35 years since that summer, nothing has changed, except there is better music.

      I will say, there will never be a leader. Now I shall enjoy the articles.

      (ps.I am so happy I dated myself. Shut up, CommanderX lol)

  6. NASDAQEnema says:

    We are an intelligent species that lost the distinction between art and language.
    As a result there is an incredible barrier to participation in this world.
    Art is useful for understanding.
    Language is useful for communication.

    Most people join a movement to shield themselves from their feeling of inability to bring about change.

    They wish to create good, so they can relax and not have to do good. It is hard to do good when all our instincts and habits make it difficult to gauge our progress. So want a big idea that will last a long time. This means we cannot accept ideas which serve smaller groups of people but are easier to implement. So we fix concepts to a pole and raise the bar. Fewer people participate.

    The problem is the longevity and usefulness of a movement comes from its diversity. It keeps on because of all the pushing and pulling.

    As we force refinements we reduce participation which reduces the usefulness and so we beg for even more refined ideas further reducing participation until the movement is no longer sustainable.

    Anonymous flips this self destructive process. We let all the trolls and jokers and goof balls in. Then we refine through operations.

    The goal should be building better operations, not trying to fix Anonymous.

  7. [...] reading and thinking about “Building a Better Anonymous-Philosophy” Series: Part 5 by Josh Corman and Brian Martin, 2012 I penned my view of my participation in the [...]

  8. @ says:

    This is a very long discussion and I’m glad someone’s trying to take it up. However, there is a MUCH simpler way to explain what’s going on here:

    The roughest translation of # is discussion or debate, but # goes beyond that. # is the ever-unfolding synthesis of opposing ideas. # has no teleology.

    @ is a completely nonspecific pronoun. @ is plural, @ is singular.

    @ is he/she/it as she/he/it exists digitally.

    @ MUST # or @ will become static and “dead.”

    Even with clever tricks, @ is never more than a gross approximation of # with a limited perspective.

    An @ with much # is a conductor

    An @ avoiding # is a resistor

    “[@] must change from being a resistor to BECOME a conductor.” ~ Alrart

    @ must #

  9. [...] pair have concocted a three-step plan for Anonymous 2.0. It’s fully laid out in part 5 of their “Building a Better [...]

  10. [...] pair have concocted a three-step plan for Anonymous 2.0. It’s fully laid out in part 5 of their “Building a Better Anonymous” [...]

  11. alicia barnett says:

    I really appreciate this article, very informative and well written. Some really good ideas for sure… My problem is this: You have SLC Punk on the first page… that cures the philosophy issue in my eyes *personally.

    I am no authority on the issue by any means but I am a free voice, and I have been following Anonymous since 2007.

    You guys have got to stop all this. I am just a regular person who has been seriously hacked after installing Linux. I have a load of screen shots, and a written log that I don’t even know where to start with! Apparently I have been on some 180,000 Anon sites… so it says.

    Looking at information on the internet should not have caused me so much damage. I was locked out of my OWN files, 5 crashed hard drives, and 3 new computers. Really! Over Viewing information?

    So my point is this: By whats been done to me, I have had to learn all about cyber security. The best way i can tell to secure my network is to hack it… vigorously. If you guys (in general) keep hacking innocent people like me, more innocent people like me will begin hacking, and not like hacker hacking but Network Admin hacking?!

    Maybe instead of trying to build a new/another/a better Anonymous everyone should just take comsec, opsec, or whatever sec into their own hands.

    Why not an Electronic Constitution? https://www.eff.org

    All-in-all this was a great read +1

  12. D says:

    The problem with set lists of do’s and don’ts or lists of commandments are they lack the flexibility to navigate complex situations. Instead a handbook or manual outlining a consequentialist decision making process ought to be released by each group.

    Words like impact, mission, goals, perspectives, risks, rewards, these fit into categories and all must be weighed. There may be situations where any option can be right but it has to be weighed against all the other options and the impact has to be fully measured and fully understood scientifically. The problem with Anonymous today is there is no scientific process for decision making. Therefore I suggest making software tools to allow for a scientific process of decision making complete with voting and risk assessment built into it. It could be a web app on a web forum or image board and all the perspectives can be discussed and the vote can be Anonymously taken.

    Should a website be defaced? You get a vote on that, and you gotta explain your vote for future review. If you’re wrong you voter points. Do it similar to Slashdot with mod points where every decision can be reviewed smart or dumb and success can be scientifically measured.

  13. D says:

    I realize any system of voting could probably be rigged so I would say this discussion board process should probably remain separate from the actual participants. There are people in the scientific, philosophical, psychological, sociological and other communities who can discuss all this in a way which is semi Anonymous such as attached to their college email address for identity or attached to their Facebook.

    The point is, you cannot ever simplify things down to a list of things you’ll never do or will always do if you’re trying to be maximally effective. What you gotta do is develop a process of calculating risk and reward, of factoring in consequences and collateral damages, of understanding the impact fully before seeking it, and this requires statistics and knowing facts.

    What works, what doesn’t work, best practices, all which would have to be in the form of a a pdf e-book or manual written by successful individuals and with input by academia, students, and the general community. If we start with core values like Free Speech then first you gotta convince people that the risks and dangers of censorship are worse than the risks and dangers of free speech. This will require statistics, studies, research which only academia can do.

    Law enforcement and various groups all have agendas to twist the statistics to support their missions and agendas. Such as with the drug war and marijuana being labeled a gate way drug with no medicinal value. The statistics and facts at this point no longer back that up. Start with the facts, generate them and then discuss values.

    While you may know it’s true that Free Speech is essential, this question has to be explored on philosophical, psychological, neuroscientific and an economic basis. Having total Free Speech would affect society and without the facts people would fear the effects of change. The same can be said about the loss of privacy, people fear that even though they don’t really have privacy and it’s mainly just an illusion. You gotta use facts to overcome peoples emotions to promote any values as being true.

    True based on what? True because statistics show Free Speech is objectively better for society despite the risks of cults, terrorism, child porn and yelling fire. At the end of the day if we lose Freedom of Expression we risk losing our minds, as cognitive liberty is up for debate as well. If you’re not free on your computer are you going to be free in your thoughts? If you are not free in your thoughts are you going to be free in your actions?

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