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.