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Let Slip the Cyberdogs of War

Friday 13 April 2012

Finally, time to catch up.

First thing this morning were the short A Declaration of Interdependence, playing with the feature doc We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists“.

Interdependence is the end result of an online call to action, to read a statement that borrows from the opening of the Declaration of Interdependence, but expanding it to include a recognition of the interdependence of everyone on everyone else, of progress and industry on resources and the environment. I see it mostly as a feel-good film that reinforces what are now commonly accepted philosophies in the progressive movements and are starting to move more into the mainstream. It’s a good film, and a progressive credo to start the day.

We Are Legion, on the other hand, goes deep, deep into…well, not exactly left field. If anything, there is a strong streak of Libertarianism in the message from Anonymous to keep the Internet open to all and free of government censorship and monitoring. The film traces the origins of Hacktivism back to MIT, through some famous computer pioneers, and into the organization that eventually took on Scientology, Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, and the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, either directly or indirectly. It looks at the various historical rifts within this very loose aglomorization of individuals, whose individual purposes are directed in ways (as pointed out in the film) as a flock of birds, now following one leader, later following another, splitting and reforming in ways that are not visible to outsiders and probably not understood completely by those on the inside.

I would say that the film is relatively agnostic; it’s a bit more pro than con, but clearly takes a negative tone towards the lulzsec branch that seemed to be more about chaos for chaos’s sake, neutral about the trolling/lolz members who are in it just for the LOL, and supportive of the hacktivists who are promoting the concept that a DDOS can be more like a sit-in, and thus protected under freedom of speech, than a terrorist attack. It’s an interesting argument, and will be played out (the first acts, anyway) in the courts later this year. There are more than a couple of interesting notes, including one by the org that helped the people in Egypt when the Mubarak government shut down the Egyptian Internet to please be there for us should we ever need similar help.

I’d highly recommend Legion to anyone who is curious about Anonymous. Interdependence is interesting, and certainly worth paying attention to in the block with Legion.

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