Monday, March 28, 2011

Practicum #2 - Patrick

I have been working long on this project partially because of how the community in question, Anonymous, helps illustrate the nebulousness of the term "Web 2.0". Anonymous is defined in part because of its collaborative nature, and how those who participate in some of its activities can ignore or actively dislike or work against others. When working together, it is often via tools that other members have access to, such as the LOIC (low-orbit ion cannon). It is a DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) software that volunteers run on their computer to help bring down websites and online services. Targets are determined via community suggestion, such as the website of the Tunisian internet service providers that were filtering protest material during the beginnings of their revolution in January or the websites of Visa and PayPal for prohibiting the use of their services in fundraising for the defense of Private Manning, the accused source of the majority of the Wikileaks information.

Outside of their communal attacks, Anonymous also works to inform those who want to participate how to protect themselves. They have a large collection of user-generated manuals for how to encrypt and hide their web activities given their sometimes questionable legal standing and risk for reprisal. My next post will be entirely on this matter.

Interestingly, although the group functions in what could be called a "Web 2.0" manner, the methods by which it spreads its information are definitely older than that. Anonymous was founded on's /b/ discussion board (note: EXTREMELY not safe for work, expect potentially disturbing content), where users typically have no usernames and where content evaporates quickly as newer content is created. From there, it moved to an older style forum at Independent of their, it also operates via IRC (internet relay chat), a method first used in 1988 and common through the early days of the public internet. It also functions via Twitter, Facebook, Tor, and any other communication medium available online that can be thought of, although those are not methods used for their main group discussion and interaction.

For tomorrow's presentation, something I would like everyone to think about is whether Web 2.0 is defined more by the tools a community uses (wikis, Facebook, et cetera) or instead by the process by which it operates.

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