Favorite Reads of 2015: #10 Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

Have a look at all of my favorite reads of 2015.

Definitely one of the most important activist groups to come about in the Internet age is Anonymous. Not only has this group been instrumental in many of the most important grassroots, fight-the-power actions of the past 10 years, it has also made essential contributions to the aesthetics and culture of the Internet (lolz, anyone? Church of Scientology South Park episode?).

But, by its very design, this group is shadowy and poorly understood. One of the main tenants of being in Anonymous is that you do not attempt to self-aggrandize or otherwise glamorize yourself, or even reveal that you are in Anonymous, which means, number one, you don’t talk to the press.

These are the reasons that Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous is an important book, because she managed to get unprecedented access to the book (including even pasting in the contents of many chats that Anonymous members had during some of their most infamous campaigns). Understanding Anonymous from the inside out really puts much of Internet culture—and grassroots “street art” culture—into a new light. It also offers important new chapters on many of the manor political events of recent years.

So I would recommend this book even if it was a turgid, painful slog. But in fact it is the opposite of that. Coleman’s depiction of Anonymous is fast-paced, often laugh-out-loud funny (unlike most critics who write those words, I really mean that; I laughed as I read this book), hugely, hugely fascinating, and uncannily winds together many, many threads into a coherent and riveting narrative. This book is seriously fun to read. Fun. It’s just a great, great book, and you all should read it.

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