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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Recap: Molly Sauter and Gabriella Coleman's evening with the internet underground

On Thursday, November 20th, we welcomed Gabriella Coleman and Molly Sauter, who were both launching their new books, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, and The Coming Swarm, respectively.

Sauter, a doctoral student at McGill, began working on her book in 2010. Her goal was to give a biography of the history of distributed denial of service actions (DDoS), a political tactic that overloads servers and causes targeted websites to shut down. She hoped that it was a good addition to the body of online social movement literature.

Coleman, who is currently Sauter's supervisor, began studying the open access movement before switching her focus to first the church of scientology, then Anonymous. The amorphous entity can be difficult to study, and at first it seemed her research wouldn't result in anything but an anecdote and maybe an article. But after WikiLeaks, Anonymous gained mainstream recognition, and interest grew.

Both Sauter and Coleman spoke only briefly, to have more time for a question and answer period in which the audience enthusiastically participated. Those who braved the cold were rewarded with nearly 45 minutes of discussion that ranged from recent ISIS developments to the legal ramifications of online political action, and also some pretty wonderful snacks.

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