Authority and Power within Anonymous | P2P Foundation

Michel Bauwens, 7th May 2011

 Excerpted from a very interesting analysis of Gabriela Coleman:

“Who participates in Anonymous? What connects the different faces? Where and how does authority lie, pool, and disperse?

Technically, Anonymous is open to all and erects no formal barriers to participation. However there are forms of tacit and explicit knowledge, skills, and sympathies that lead some people and not others to politically engage in this domain. In contrast to most organizations, including Wikileaks, it is easier to contribute to Anonymous as it offers numerous micro-protest opportunities coordinated at the drop of a hat, among other possibilities for participation.

To grasp some of the power dynamics at play in Anonymous, it is imperative to address the technical architecture where many spend a significant time chatting and coordinating action: Internet Relay Chat. And it is worth emphasizing that there are currently two distinct and unconnected IRC networks where participants coordinate different efforts: Anonet and Anonops. Contrary to a number of media reports, these are open to the public. However a good deal of the public has no idea how to find or use Internet Relay Chat, although it is not technically difficult to use.

Within each IRC network there are also scores of channels, although there is usually only a dozen or so that are well populated at a given time. There are some channels devoted to social topics and lighthearted and humorous (ie: lulzy) banter, as many participants still value the lulz. The lulz provides “a release valve,” as one participant explained, a valve that makes the hard and sometimes depressing work of political engagement more bearable. Other channels exist to address technical issues, and of course, there are also multiple channels where the many political operations are coordinated; some participants have a pivotal role to play in many of them, others are only involved in a few channels. Continue reading