Understanding Anonymous: The Culture Of Lulz

from the it's-not-an-organization dept

We've written a number of times about the not-really-a-group Anonymous, and just how little those who position themselves "against" Anonyomous understand what it is they're fighting against. But even for those who are "of internet culture," explaining just what Anonymous really is certainly can be difficult. Either you live it and you get it, or you don't. That doesn't mean that everyone who "gets" Anonymous agrees with Anonymous. Hell, even Anonymous doesn't agree with Anonymous much of the time -- which is part of the point. But for those who are used to arguing against a group or those with an established position, the entire concept of Anonymous is completely alien.

Quinn Norton is putting together what looks to be a brilliant exploration of Anonymous and related efforts. The initial piece is the best I've seen to date in encapsulating what Anonymous is. The key point? It’s a culture. And, it's a culture with a long heritage of similar efforts that many people didn't get at the time, but there's definitely a (rather non-linear, of course) relationship:
The birthplace of Anonymous is a website called 4chan founded in 2003, that developed an “anything goes” random section known as the /b/ board. 4chan itself comes from a Japanese-language predecessor called 2chan, founded in 2001. Before that, the lulz and hacker pranking was alive and well in old-school IRC chat rooms, EFnet, and the 1990s hacker scene.

But if you’re going back that far, add as influences Mondo 2000, and publications like RE/Search, and a billion shitty zines that were dead by 1996. But those all came from something, too.

Hacker culture, and almost all of computer culture back in the day is shot through with the Discordian edge of 1960/1970s counter-culture and Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus. So from there it’s the yippies, Andy Kaufmann, and the Situationists we need to first comprehend. Or do we head back to early 20th century absurdists of Dada? Or maybe we venture all the way to that olde booke of epic trolling lulze, Tristram Shandy?

We’re all the way to 1759 now.

Perhaps this means the 1960s Discordians are right, and there’s a Ha Ha Only Serious giggle that is cosmic in nature. That there is a part of reality, a force of physics, that is actually a Fundamental Sense of Humor. But the gravity we deal with can only be explained to an even larger amount of Dark Humor, woven into the fabric of the universe.
Of course, those who don't get Anonymous still won't get Anonymous after this article. In fact, they're likely to be more confused, or more sure than ever that it's "just a bunch of bratty kids" or something along those lines. And thinking that works exactly to Anonymous' favor, which is part of the joke, in which everyone is the punchline.

Filed Under: anonymous, culture, history, lulz


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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 10 Nov 2011 @ 12:34am

    Re:

    a short attention span, a little free time, and a vague desire to belong to something but not to take it too seriously

    Interestingly, you have just described human civilisation for the last 10,000 years.

    Please don't confused these years with the short intermissions within them of Spanish inquisitions, MICE (Money, Ideology, Conscience, Ego) worshipping, and the push for power by those who want to control everything due to inferiority complexes

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