Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Interesting Thing About Anarchy

I've been following Project Chanology with great interest. Though I won't express my sentiments about Scientology publicly, due to the risks involved, I will at least say that I morally support the effort to demand accountability from a predatory, dangerous organization such as the Co$.

I won't claim to be nearly as knowledgeable as others on this topic, and probably am even much less interested in it than those who are at the core of this project, but it seems to me like there is enough verifiable claims in the message of their protests to lend some credence to their campaign.

However, there is a real problem that faces this group, and that is their association with Anonymous, of 4chan and 711chan fame. Or more accurately, it is the fact that some members of this group wish to paint a picture of a 'reformed' collective dedicated to peaceful actions in the name of human rights. This to me, is just silly.

Equally silly is any media who chooses to paint the group as homogeneously a bunch of mischievous hackers and miscreants. The Church of Scientology has gone to great lengths to support this view, but without even taking a position on the political issues here:

A group of people conversing and organizing anonymously are by definition, undefined in motives and purpose.

I pretty much feel like this sort of 'smoke screen' has actually served to gain the group a lot of media coverage, even if some of it has been negative. We're seeing something truly amazing here, regardless if you're interested in the actual issues at hand. The internet is being used in an extremely innovative way to empower common people to fight against things they perceive as oppression. Even if this isn't my fight, or yours, we can learn a lesson from the methods this group uses.

Still, I wonder if those interested in furthering this fight against Scientology would benefit from a little more specification. The media commonly speaks about Anonymous, but rarely about Project Chanology. The former is very hard to put a finger on, running the gambit from lolcat pics, to terrorist threats, to stolen myspace passwords, to political activism. The latter project has proven to be peaceful, effective, and extremely well organized given its decentralized nature.

My feeling is that the media needs to know about Project Chanology, and that the Anons fighting this fight need to let them know about this. Now that the shock factor of the group has been established, its probably time to put a little more focus on it so that people like my parents can start understanding what this sort of thing is really all about when they hear it on the news.

Maybe that's a little too much to ask for from folks going for the epic lulz, but I think it'd do a whole lot to broaden the effort and separate those who would cause crime from those who are doing a good thing for society, if only through their demonstration of the power of civil action.

Also, to really go for the win, some of these kids will eventually need to take off their masks. It will take a whole lot of acceptance from society to get to that stage. It's fine if they're not ready for that yet, I don't blame them, they're dealing with a scary opponent. I think it's a worthwhile goal to work towards though.

Of course, because the whole thing is leaderless and anonymous, your 'cyber-terrorist' and your 'civil-warrior' might be one in the same person. However, simply labeling this as a sub-project inspired by Anonymous, and not the overall goal of the collective, would be a sufficient way to bring more common, non-hackish people into the masses.

This post is in response to a YouTube video I just watched, which said pretty much everything I haven't been able to put in words while talking to friends about this. If you're into this sort of chaos, check it out:

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