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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tonight! An Evening with the Internet Underground: Double Launch with Gabriella Coleman and Molly Sauter

Join us tonightat 7 p.m. for An Evening with the Internet UndergroundGabriella Coleman and Molly Sauter will both be launching books. How has the internet underground changed politics online and in the world at large? Who is Anonymous? What is a DDoS? Can civil disobedience find a home on the internet? Coleman and Sauter will discuss these questions and more as they read from and talk about their new books, Hacker Hoaxer Whistleblower Spy and The Coming Swarm. There will be a signing and reception after the event.


Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of worldwide movement of hackers, pranksters, and activists that operates under the non-name Anonymous just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption (before Anonymous shot to fame as a key player in the battles over WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street). She ended up becoming so closely connected to Anonymous that the tricky story of her inside-outside status as Anon confidante, interpreter, and erstwhile mouthpiece forms one of the themes of this witty and entirely engrossing book. The narrative brims with details unearthed from within a notoriously mysterious subculture, whose semi-legendary tricksters – such as Topiary, tflow, Anachaos, and Sabu – emerge as complex, diverse, politically and culturally sophisticated people. Propelled by years of chats and encounters with a multitude of hackers, including imprisoned activist Jeremy Hammond and the double agent who helped put him away, Hector Monsegur, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is filled with insights into the meaning of digital activism and little understood facets of culture in the Internet age, including the history of “trolling,” the ethics and metaphysics of hacking, and the origins and manifold meanings of “the lulz.”


In The Coming Swarm, rising star Molly Sauter examines the history, development, theory, and practice of distributed denial of service actions as a tactic of political activism. The internet is a vital arena of communication, self expression, and interpersonal organizing. When there is a message to convey, words to get out, or people to unify, many will turn to the internet as a theater for that activity. As familiar and widely accepted activist tools-petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing, call-in campaigns and others-find equivalent practices in the online space, is there also room for the tactics of disruption and civil disobedience that are equally familiar from the realm of street marches, occupations, and sit-ins? With a historically grounded analysis, and a focus on early deployments of activist DDOS as well as modern instances to trace its development over time, The Coming Swarm uses activist DDOS actions as the foundation of a larger analysis of the practice of disruptive civil disobedience on the internet.

Gabriella (Biella) Coleman is the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, teaches, researches, and writes on computer hackers. Her work examines the ethics of online collaboration/institutions as well as the role of the law and digital media in sustaining various forms of political activism. Her first book, Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking was published with Princeton University Press. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is her second book.

Molly Sauter is a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal in the department of Art History and Communication Studies. She holds a masters degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, and is an affiliate researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the Media Lab and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.  Her research is situated in socio-political analyses of technology and technological culture, and is broadly focused on hacker culture, transgressive digital activism, and depictions of technology in the media. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, HiLow Brow, io9,The American Behavioral Scientist, and the MIT Technology Review. Her research has been featured by Popular Mechanics, BoingBoing, the BBC, NPR, the CBC, Der Spiegel, and the Christian Science Monitor.  She resides in Montreal, Quebec, and lives on the internet, blogging at oddletters.com and tweeting @oddletters.

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