An Anonymous Ink Blot Rorschach

Posted: 2011/11/11 in Anonymous
Anonymous Rorschach Ink Blot (Artwork by Mar - -

We see in Anonymous what we WANT to see (Anonymous Rorschach) - (Artwork by Mar -

I have a “simple”, non-rhetorical question for you:

When you look at Anonymous, what do you see?


Jericho (@attritionorg) and I have been working on a BLOG series about Anonymous, as a follow-on to our DEFCON19 Panel called “Whoever Fights Monsters: Confronting Aaron Barr, Anonymous and Ourselves”. We’re pretty close to posting the 1st of these (possibly next week).

It dawned on me as we researched that one of the “distortion fields” surrounding “understanding Anonymous” is that we see in them what we WANT to see – like we do with a Rorschach ink blot test. We project. Our narrative says more about us, than it does about them. This is the double-edged sword that sometimes comes with symbols and iconography.

For those who didn’t immediately recognize the Friedrich Nietzsche reference in that DEFCON title, it comes from this:

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

As a teaser to our series – and as I finalize my slides for my Anonymous talk for next Thursday at SOURCE Barcelona, I thought I’d throw this Non-Rhetorical Question out to each of you…

When you look at Anonymous, what do you see?

As succinctly as you can – either within the Comment field or with a BLOG post/response of your own… please add your take on Anonymous (initially, today, going forward, all of the above…)

I hope to share some of the more interesting responses during my talk in Barcelona.

Remember… as you gaze into the Anonymous Abyss… it too gazes back into you.

Artwork Note:

This Rorschach and several other BEAUTIFUL pieces of orignal artwork come from -MAR- at – just amazing.

Anonymous Rorschach Ink Blot (Artwork by Mar - -

We see in Anonymous what we WANT to see... what do you see? (Artwork by Mar -

  1. @98pm says:

    Hello…you’re not doing this right and I know it (with that wry smile) 🙂

  2. I was pretty critical of Anonymous at first. The whole wikileaks, LulzSec, AntiSec things appeared to be a malicious strain of the usual disestablishmentarian rhetoric from “those damned kids”. But as their influence and message spread, I began to hear things that struck a chord with me. I didn’t agree with a lot of what they said or did — I still don’t — but it became obvious that I _sympathized_ with them and why they feel the way they do. $DIETY help me, I understood their perspective a little.
    With them turning on pedophilia and Los Zetas, they have show they can wag the dog too. And they seemed to show that they don’t feel as completely anonymous and secure as they like claim, what with their backing down off Los Zetas when things seemed to get a little dicey.
    Or maybe I don’t have all the facts (almost guaranteed I don’t.)
    I’m also a fan of the early Occupy statements and comments. I’ve become less of a fan as violence has escalated. A lot of people are claiming its all Police initiated, but I can’t completely buy that. It may be in a majority of cases, but the protestors can’t all be Ghandi-esque in their composure. And really, complaining about the 1% isn’t doing much good. Complain about the broken representational government we have. We don’t even get to vote for the president we want to, in what is supposed to be one of the few Democratic elections in our system. We have this broken electoral bullshit that can be subverted by a minority of well placed people.
    I may not laud Anonymous or give them ‘props’, but they have forced society to examine a lot of the issues that we have been too content to leave in the background. For this Anonymous must be recognized as a social force.

    • anonymous says:

      I watch the Occupy protests on livestream/ustream and the violence has been by the police in every instance I’ve seen.

  3. anonymous says:

    I see the undirected, unarticulated anger of a generation that has been subjected to ruthless commercialism and profiteering.

  4. Elinor says:

    At a minimum, Anonymous is forcing us as a culture to confront some truths and to re-examine what it means to be a citizen in a digital world. Unfortunately, the lack of leadership and accountability has led to poor judgment in some of the ops and affected innocent people, which can undermine their more well-intentioned efforts. It’s a dynamic movement to follow.

    But maybe I’m just projecting… ; )

  5. kurt wismer says:

    when i looked at anonymous in the past i saw a variety of different things. each action they took broadened the concept i had of them until i eventually came to think of them as a force of human nature.

    every vice, every virtue, every ideal, every instinct, and every reasoned argument from a wide swath of the population mixed with the means to turn will into action (whether coordinated or not). it represents every facet of human nature, from our most noble aspirations to the base psychopathy that wants nothing more than to watch the world burn. so long as 1 person within anonymous wants something to happen and has the means to make it happen, it’ll happen and it will be done in the name of anonymous.

  6. deaddrop says:

    I see the questions we should all be asking

  7. Andy says:

    faceless , nameless, machine

  8. NullOp says:

    I see talent, good intentions, youthful energy and lack of understanding as to how the real world works. I think Anonymous doesn’t give their foe as much credit as they deserve. This is always a mistake in a conflict. Usually a fatal one. If Anonymous wants to take on the American business system and government they better be prepared for war….really.

  9. A group that uses the devices the bullies created to bully THEM!

  10. Debordagoria says:

    A force, for our side, technically unmatched and thus safely hidden, that is able to frighten the functionaries of a corrupt and evil system.

  11. OpSecShellshock says:

    Well, which implementations, and what date/time is it? Depends on the operation and the level of interest, I suppose. At its best it can seem sort of like the antibodies of a west that would prefer to remain wild, and so protects itself from things that would threaten that. But then sometimes it’s just some dicks on the internet like any kind of other nameless engagement, good or bad, funny or not. At its most hilarious it’s like people who put on a black duster and think it makes them badass. But even then, I think it’s almost too specific to even picture it as some kind of collective, or even as human since it’s more like a container for activities and even then only under circumstances with sufficient participation. You know what it’s like? It’s like a platform with a ridiculously open API. Put a GF mask on it and you’re off to the races as long as you get enough buy-in.

  12. IA says:

    A great initiative that started as the voice of the 99%. Very quickly (by the definition of what Anonymous means) deteriorated into a situation where:
    1. Some actions (those led by the original Anonymous core group) are well thought of, pro-society, pro-american, and reasonable (yes – including wikileaks, etc…).
    2. Other actions are done under the “mask” of Anonymous by rogue groups who have nothing to do with the actual movement (OpFacebook, OpCartel, OpPalestine) and are just another way to get the media attention to previously unheard of groups of skiddies.
    Currently I think that the core movement is spending more time explaining what they support and what not (I’ll be damned if the stupid idiots that led innocent bloggers in Mexico to “join” the opCartel have thought about the implications and that human lives are at stake).
    A lot of skiddie groups are “catching a ride” on the Anonymous brand (which was the initial definition of what Anonymous is), and are causing more harm and disarray. What’s next? supporting the Iranian nuclear weapon program? supporting inner-city cop-killing? bringing back racism?

  13. Stephen says:

    How can one form an opinion about something which is merely an edifice designed to de- individualize humanity? Unless I am mistaken the whole point is that there is no group, there is no identity. At best one might see their reflection/their own humanity, in a mirror, but with no face.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I see people becoming pro-active instead of standing around with our hands in our pockets complaining that “somebody should do something”. That somebody is us, Joe Citizen-Of-The-world. WE are Anonymous. WE vote and WE can change the world if only WE will stand together. OWS was only one face of Anonymous. Anonymous is the first true grass-roots movement since the pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rocks. Anonymouse is not just a bunch of dope smoking hoods running around spreading anarchy and throwing rocks. Anonymous is made up of people from all walks of life and social strata who want to change the social imbalances forstered by the worlds governments in favor of the rich and powerful. In mass, WE are powerful. Powerful enough to bring down corporations and politicians who tend to forget one thing, WE vote and WE can use the information highways for our own rightious purposes. WE are Anonymous. WE are legion. WE do not forgive. WE do not forget. Expect us. WE are here.

  15. enkiv2 says:

    I find Anon very interesting from the perspective of the study of leaderless groups, and from the perspective of the study of identity in politics (and its absence). Anon is without internal explicit identity (i.e., some member of anonymous cannot reject the suggestion of some other member out of hand based on memory of something else that person has done), and so one would expect that static hierarchical structures could not form within Anon: while in a given situation some individual who clearly has a handle on the facts and has a convincing set of ideas can rocket to the top of a temporary hierarchy, as soon as his ideas cease to be convincing he no longer has clout because he cannot be distinguished from the masses who have never contributed something worthwhile. As such, you can expect Anon to be both very agile and particularly vulnerable to subversion by agent provacateurs.

    This is probably not what you’re looking for, since (judging by the other comments) you’re looking for moral analyses. But, morals function to sustain and stablize an existing social system. Anon does not belong to an existing social system in the traditional sense; depending on how you look at it, either it constitutes its own model of a social system or it is itself best modeled as a single agent lacking a social system to which it can belong (there is no United Nations for geographically distributed deindividuated intentional communities).

    • joshcorman says:

      It is interesting you brought up morals. Some moral frameworks/systems are born out of rational self interest and/or necessity (not just nationalistic or religious common denominators). Social contracts form when their absence is no longer tenable. More on this in the future.

  16. LSettle says:

    I see mirth, intelligence. I would like to see more like character and courage but first sentence
    is honest first response.

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