Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anonymous - A RL Stand Alone Complex?

If you've been following the goings on on the interweb over the last few years you may have noticed the odd thing attributed to "Anonymous" an apparent online group. Which has supposedly been involved in such things as, online raids against websites, hacking peoples Myspace pages, tacking Internet Predators, Protests against Scientology, Assaulting Epilepsy forums with images that cause attacks (though some claim that it was Scientology trying to ruin the Anonymous Rep, certainly possible), defacing hiphop sites and now hacking Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account (yes the current VP on the Us Republican ticket).( for more info see links at bottom)

What is interesting about this so called group is whether or not it actually exists and what we would commonly consider to be a group or whether it is an example of a "emergent" social behavior such as the one Theorized about in the Ghost in the Shell anime serie, Stand alone complex.

The Standalone complex is a phenomenon where unrelated individuals act in a similar manner which creates an appearance of a concerted effort. As in someone mentions something or does something that attracts the attention of others. With out communicating specifically with each other, they each act in a manner consistent with that of the original suggestion or action. This creates the appearance of a concerted effort even though the individuals are unrelated, there is no leader as such and no overall plan. A better explanation can be found here Wikipedia on The Standalone Complex.


Looking at this so called group "Anonymous" with the standalone complex in mind one would seriously wonder if it is actually a group as it has been described. To a certain degree, it seems to have originated (according to wikipedia at least) in a number of online forums, imageboards and websites, where "Anonymous" is the default name assigned to any post, by a person not using a login for that website or messageboard. Thus "Anonymous" is effectively anyone and every one who can't be bothered with a login or does not use one for some reason, yet is interested enough in what ever topic that they want to contribute.
So at it's very beginning Anonymous is a "group" of completely unrelated people who share common interests, yet for the most part never meet and do not communicate on a personal level. Is this even a group as such?
So any way you eventually end up with a "group" of people who utilise "Anonymous" as an identify, and some people do some stuff and then leave a message stating that they the group "Anonymous" were responsible.

So effectively we have a defined group with no specific "membership", no real leaders (though sub groups with in the so called "Anonymous" metagroup may), and no particular plan, managing to do stuff and having other stuff attributed to them. The stuff they've done is quite varied though it can kind of be split up into a couple of areas, Hacking and Protest/vigilante stuff.

What is kind of cool I guess is we have an apparent group that does stuff, and has stuff attributed to it when for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist, and is likely to be a simply a variety of people acting with common goals, with out a leader and with out specific plans.
Yet it is capable, or at least people are willing to assign it blame or responsibility for a range of impressive actions, some with potentially far reaching effects. A group which may or may not exist yet has/is being investigated by TV journalists, by the FBI and Secret Service...

The protests that were affiliated with it against Scientology were it's most interesting action so far and were rather impressive, have a look at the links to images at the bottom of the post, and have a read of there statement (bottom of the page) or watch the video of it. The most recent accredited action hacking the emails of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (Wired on Anoynmous hacking Sarah Palins emails.) is very interesting and has potentially far reaching consequences, considering the election is soonish and it appears that she may have been using her personal email for government business. Some people seem to think this may have been an attempt to aviod the US information discolsure laws with regards to email, if so and should there be much of interest in the hacked data it could have a significant effect on the election.

Any way I'm rambling somewhat so here is a question:
What do you think of the "group" such as it is and it's apparent actions, and do you think it's an example of a standalone complex/emergent behavior?




Links

Anoynmous Declaration against Scientology

Hello, Scientology. We are Anonymous.

Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. With the leakage of your latest propaganda video into mainstream circulation, the extent of your malign influence over those who trust you, who call you leader, has been made clear to us. Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind--for the laughs--we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form. We acknowledge you as a serious opponent, and we are prepared for a long, long campaign. You will not prevail forever against the angry masses of the body politic. Your methods, hypocrisy, and the artlessness of your organization have sounded its death knell.

You cannot hide; we are everywhere.

We cannot die; we are forever. We're getting bigger every day--and solely by the force of our ideas, malicious and hostile as they often are. If you want another name for your opponent, then call us Legion, for we are many.

Yet for all that we are not as monstrous as you are; still our methods are a parallel to your own. Doubtless you will use the Anon's actions as an example of the persecution you have so long warned your followers would come; this is acceptable. In fact, it is encouraged. We are your SPs.

Gradually as we merge our pulse with that of your "Church", the suppression of your followers will become increasingly difficult to maintain. Believers will wake, and see that salvation has no price. They will know that the stress, the frustration that they feel is not something that may be blamed upon Anonymous. No--they will see that it stems from a source far closer to each. Yes, we are SPs. But the sum of suppression we could ever muster is eclipsed by that of the RTC.

Knowledge is free.

We are Anonymous.

We are Legion.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Expect us.


Congrats if you made sense of this post...

6 comments:

Minorage said...

An intriguing thought! Thanks for the post.

onecrane said...

I'm so glad this post exists! I have somehow managed to not hear of Anonymous' videos until this very day (courtesy of SOPA and PIPA), and my immediate thought after watching the second video was "this is a real-life standalone complex!"

I would check Wikipedia for more information on the definition of a standalone complex, but today is the blackout. So, I have to go on memory. If I recall correctly, a standalone complex is the phenomenon of copycats in the absence of an original, wherein each member of the complex acts independently and believes themselves to be the original, but none of them truly is.

Under those guidelines, Anonymous looks an awful lot like a standalone complex, because it clearly meets the first criteria. But the second? An individual or small group can certainly operate independently and have original thought and action, but is it possible for any such individual or group to somehow forget that their identity as such is a copy?

It may not make a difference, particularly if the participants respond to each other under that identity (such as the assassination attempts on Daido being inspired by the public threat); it is almost more likely to see that emerge given Anonymous' fundamental group identity ("We are Anonymous"). And if whoever created the concept of Anonymous never acts under that identity again, then all such actions would be made by copies without an original, everyone involved believing that they are a component of the original, and none of them truly being so - fulfilling the criteria for a standalone complex.

In any event, it is certainly emergent behavior. There is simply no way that the current manifestation of Anonymous is a single group or individual. What remains unclear (and probably always will to those of us not in law enforcement) is how the independent emergent bodies interact (or don't interact) with each other. If they wind up acting in similar ways without any coordination or communication... well, it seems highly possible to me.

Mark Lindley said...

I was just watching a supposed Anonymous video on Youtube and thought "how do i know its them?". And then I thought "This could just be a copycat just taking someone's idea". Than I recalled watching GITS and its idea of the Stand Alone Complex and that made me re-think this situation.

I cannot say for certain, b/c there is no structure to this "group" and so we can only speculate. It's a shame when you dont have much information to go off of.

I like your points you shared. I wont be surprised if this is occurring more and more.

Mark Lindley said...

I was just watching a supposed Anonymous video on Youtube and thought "how do i know its them?". And then I thought "This could just be a copycat just taking someone's idea". Than I recalled watching GITS and its idea of the Stand Alone Complex and that made me re-think this situation.

I cannot say for certain, b/c there is no structure to this "group" and so we can only speculate. It's a shame when you dont have much information to go off of.

I like your points you shared. I wont be surprised if this is occurring more and more.

Mark Lindley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark Lindley said...

I was just watching a supposed Anonymous video on Youtube and thought "how do i know its them?". And then I thought "This could just be a copycat just taking someone's idea". Than I recalled watching GITS and its idea of the Stand Alone Complex and that made me re-think this situation.

I cannot say for certain, b/c there is no structure to this "group" and so we can only speculate. It's a shame when you dont have much information to go off of.

I like your points you shared. I wont be surprised if this is occurring more and more.