Gabriella Coleman (McGill) – The state of anonymous
December 2, 2015 • 11h45 December 2, 2015 • 13h00
Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, local C-1017-2
Gabriella (Biella) Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she researches, writes, and teaches on computer hackers and digital activism. Her first book on Free Software, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking has been published with Princeton University Press. Her new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, published by Verso, has been named to Kirkus Reviews’Best Books of 2014.
Summary : More than any other political movement, past or present, Anonymous provides the ideal case study through which to probe the workings, benefits, contradictions, and limitations of applied anonymity-in-action. As a recent privacy movement has coalesced, I have observed a distinct tension among those who believe in anonymity as a politically useful tool. Even as many leftist and liberal advocates unequivocally support a right to encryption, they also sometimes express a deep discomfort about the use of secrecy among activists, the role of anonymity in general, and the function of Anonymous in particular. To put it slightly differently, many are uncomfortable with the way Anonymous, and anonymous actions more generally, lack accountability or, in a more trenchant version of the criticism, demonstrate basic cowardice. In this talk, I will first explain how anonymity functions among Anonymous activists and then launch a defense of the limited use of secrecy/anonymity in activism by discussing its benefits in light of the limits of transparency.
This content has been updated on October 25, 2015 at 19 h 11 min.