By David Auerbach and Gabriella Coleman
Here Comes Nobody features two essays published in the online magazine Triple Canopy in early 2012. Gabriella Coleman's "Our Weirdness Is Free" uncovers the logic of Anonymous—online army, agent of chaos, and seeker of justice. David Auerbach's "Anonymity as Culture" explores the online message board 4chan and the legacy of Internet masquerade in a treatise and a series of case studies.
"Our Weirdness Is Free"
Coleman, an acclaimed anthropologist and technology critic, has spent the past four years studying the hacktivist group Anonymous, which has recently targeted the MPAA, the RIAA, the former government of Tunisia, and the Church of Scientology. “Sometimes coy and playful, sometimes macabre and sinister, often all at once, Anonymous is still animated by a collective will toward mischief,” Coleman writes. “While Anonymous has not put forward any programmatic plan to topple institutions or change unjust laws, it has made evading them seem easy and desirable. To those donning the Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous, this—and not the commercialized, ‘transparent’ social networking of Facebook—is the promise of the Internet, and it entails trading individualism for collectivism.”
Coleman’s article has already been widely lauded; it is being translated into five languages and republished around the world. Nathan Schneider of Alternet has called it “extraordinary.” Drawing on Coleman’s comparison of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, he writes, “The movements themselves are their own programmatic plan, parallel institutions unto themselves.”
"Anonymity as Culture"
Auerbach, a critic and programmer, has written an incisive study of A-culture, his term for the infamous online message board 4chan and the culture it has spawned. Underlying the profanity and LOLcats, Auerbach finds a rich (and sordid) world formed in opposition to recognition, prestige, and celebrity—in other words, what we so often imagine to define Internet culture. “The growth of these anonymous spaces marks the first wide-scale collective gathering of those who are alienated, disaffected, voiceless, and just plain unsocialized,” Auerbach writes. “These are people whose tweets will not make the headlines. They do not wish to create a platform that enables them to be heard by the world; they want to shut out the world.” Auerbach provides a glossary of A-culture’s key terms (e.g. An Hero, white knight, NORP) and takes the reader through four emblematic chat-room threads dealing with homosexuality, suicide, hate, and Brazilian scat-porn.
Triple Canopy is an online magazine, workspace, and platform for editorial and curatorial activities. Working collaboratively with writers, artists, and researchers, Triple Canopy facilitates projects that engage the Internet’s specific characteristics as a public forum and as a medium, one with its own evolving practices of reading and viewing, economies of attention, and modes of interaction. In doing so, Triple Canopy is charting an expanded field of publication, drawing on the history of print culture while acting as a hub for the exploration of emerging forms and the public spaces constituted around them. Triple Canopy is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.