Anonymous: Conflation, Synergy, Diffusion, and Spin

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street & Anonymous: Conflation, Synergy, Diffusion, and Media Spin

It All Started With Anonymous and WikiLeaks

The Chinese have an aphorism “May you live in interesting times” It’s a bit more of a curse than it is an aphorism, but, the gist is that they are not wishing you a “good time”.

It has been feeling pretty “interesting” this last year and I really have to say that it all stems from Anonymous’ and their ignition of the nascent feeling today of powerlessness on the part of many.

Whether it be their personal lives, or perhaps by looking at the whole of the world through the instantaneous news cycles that today’s technology has afforded, in general, people are not feeling as though they have much control over their daily lives.

I would have to say that much of this has its genesis in 9/11 and the post 9/11 world that we have come to be in. Security has become the operative word for some excesses by government to use its powers (self created) Case in point, the ability to spy on anyone deemed to be a threat without a warrant.

The knee jerk reaction to 9/11 has allowed for a fear based response that has set some pretty scary precedents these last 10 years. Add to this the bank scandals, the recession, the fallout from Fanny and Freddy, and waves of greed and misdeeds on the part of corporations that influence the government, and we have quite the picture of how things have gone sideways.

But.. Much of this is not new I’m afraid. WikiLeaks just opened the secret flood gates in some ways. Though, had you been paying attention you likely would have already known much of what WikiLeaks was trying to say before the big dumps began to show up online.

What is new is that a new generation of youth have been disenfranchised enough to take up arms against it all as they see fit. Anonymous, was the catalyst for this in their early attacks on oppression like “Scientology” a system which really is much more a corporation melded with a religiosity (faux) to create an entity that is not taxed, does not have oversight by anyone, and seems for all intents and purposes, to be a “Corporate Cult”…

Which when I think about it now post Steve Jobs departure from this mortal coil, is a lot like the reverb surrounding Apple and the Jobs-ian “passing on to a higher plain” claptrap... But that is another story…

Either way, the gist of this all is that Anonymous and WikiLeaks is the progenitors here I think, and it is the very nature of the collectives technical bent that has lit this fuse that finally reached out of the digital Kabuki theatre and on to the real streets.

Technology, The Great Equalizer

Anonymous’ use of technology only comes naturally as they formed online. It is with the growth of social media and the connectivity that we all have today with smart phones, that the movement went viral. Some may say it was the targeting, but I would say that the targeting was always there, but those who were feeling the miasma weren’t able to express it in the normal ways of yesterday.

However, with blogs, micro-blogs, twitter, texting, etc, people coalesced into groups on their own with a collective gravity that eventually, had enough psychic mass to catch on large scale.

It is this very thing that has led to what we see today. From flash mobs to the final outcome of the occupy movement that harkens back actually to the early Tea Party movement in the way the word got out and collected like minds to its cause.

All of these people have found each other and inspired one another to react to what they are perceiving as injustice within the systems in which they live. The technology has given the tools to the populace to respond in a way that only the mass media has had the corner of the market on for so long.

Added to this the technical aspects that bred not only the Anonymous “Hactivism”, we have a new paradigm for dissent. The recent threat to DoS NYSE by Anonymous is case in point to the technology being used as not only a weapon but also as a means of protest, though the legalities of such attacks is questionable.

The law has yet to catch up on much of the technology, so the arguments upcoming over the LOIC arrests for the MasterCard denial of service attacks will likely generate new law either way.

Interesting times indeed.

Occupy Wall Street... Why, Again?

Of late, the “occupation” movement has picked up speed all around the globe. However, it seems that with these demonstrations unlike the ones in the 60′s over Civil Rights, seems rather more diffuse when you go and observe what’s going on.

Now, one could say that this is media spin, but, when I look at the aggregate reporting from all sides, I can see how some might categorise the movement as being diffuse. On some fronts, the movement seems to have been co-opted by others with more shall we say, exotic demands? I guess my fear would be that this turns into a Lolapalooza  or a Burning Man instead of a protest with specific goals in mind.

Occupy Wall Street has a set of 13 goals that seemed to me pretty straight forward, yet, they seem to be open ended. Perhaps the movement might tighten them down a bit and generate some more concise and workable (demands) for lack of a better term? In the era of the 60′s there was a defined demand for a civil rights bill...

I suggest to you all now that you work something akin out on paper to give to the Congress critters that want to work with you. After all, its kinda pointless to ask for things like “stuff” and expect to get something back (including support) that is concrete from the establishment. How about you get some of the luminaries in the economics field to give you ideas for positions?

Unless you direct all this energy, you will all be collectively mocked as a bunch of stinky hippies without jobs or just attributed to be “malcontent’s”. Define the argument… Get the 60′s protesters to show you the way.. After all, they really did change things..  For a while.

The Media, Lapdogs To The Corporations?

Speaking of perceptions, here we have one of the key issues today. For a long time it seemed as though the mainstream media was ignoring the protests. Perhaps they thought it was just going to go away and it wasn’t news.

However, as they have come to find out, there seems to be a large disenfranchised populace out there willing to protest. Just who are they protesting and what seems to be the issue both from the perspective I have as well as what the media might want to portray it to be.

Yes.. That’s right, I am not a fan of the media today. It is my opinion frankly that Cronkite’s demise only saved him further pain and anguish over the career that he loved so much. The mainstream media as it’s called, is pretty much a corporate run “profit” centre as opposed to what it used to be “a cost centre”.

That’s right kids, as soon as news became a “for profit” business as a whole, its efficacy in providing true reporting became much diminished. Now, this is not to say that this wasn’t the case before.

In the 19th century all you had to do was look at the newspapers of the day and you could see it was all about “if it bleeds it leads!” and just how much money could be made with a lurid headline. Of course today we get the same treatment from a fire-hose of sources online and off, all of which is now pretty much solely being run for profit.

When people talk about the media being the lapdogs of corporations, they need only look as far as FOX *cough* News, who really came down to the point in a court case claiming that they aren’t really news, but instead “entertainment”. Enough said really huh?

So, when I see the stories not only about things like Occupy Wall Street, but also anything I have a pretty good knowledge of, I see their spin to get headlines and attract viewers... Viewers who in turn are the targets of marketing and advertising between segments. Follow the money…

Of course speaking of Fox, you only have to read a bit more and see how Mr. Kane... Uhh, I mean Mr. Hearst… Uhh, I mean Mr. Murdoch uses his papers and other media operations to sway the public and the government. Even his machinations involving phone hacking is a telling piece of the puzzle no? Yes Virginia, Mr. Murdoch does underhanded things to get what he wants…

So, while we are protesting the other injustices, one might suggest that you all pay attention to the media that you are being interviewed by and made into sound bytes… They can control the story... Catch them at it… Stop it when they do.

The Governmental Response and New Backlash

Meanwhile, another faction that is being used by the media (hand in glove) is the government and the players within it who would use these tools. The recent coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement on CNN for instance shows how the media can be used to portray the movement as nothing but unwashed stupid hippies (the favor Newt gave to the debate).

Perhaps Newt was misquoted? Maybe it’s out of context? I think not. I find it really funny that the Republicans have latched onto this issue by saying that it is a symptom of “Class Warfare” and generally acting like the old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. Well, come to think about it, I guess that is pretty much on the mark, Wall Street is their lawn ain’t it?

The Democrats are only a little better on this issue as well. Sure, they support what is happening or what’s being said, but really, do any of us really think they are feeling so moved by their own ethos? Or might it be that it’s election season and they are seeing potential voters?

Yeah, I think its the latter too. Frankly both parties are useless in my book and as for the Tea Party, well, they are pretty much tinfoil hat wearing reactionaries to me. However, this is not to say that they don’t have a core idea that is right.

Change needs to happen. It’s just how and by whom is the real question.

So, when all of the Congress critters get in on talking about this I take it all with a pillar of salt, not just a grain. Meanwhile, we have the police responses to the protesters. For the most part, I can take no issue with the arrests that have happened on the face of them “legally” however, when violence is involved, then I begin to wonder just what the Hell is going on.

Of course tensions will run high and there will be morons like Bologna (mace boy) but on the whole, I think the response thus far has been pretty even handed on the part of law enforcement. I know others will likely take issue with this, but, this is just my opinion of what I have seen thus far.

However... Just how long will it be before the anti-occupy Wall Street folks start showing up fueled by the likes of the Tea Party whacknuts or worse?

Time will tell…

A Return of the Sixties and Socio-Economic Upheaval?

I have written at least a couple of times in the past year that I was beginning to feel as though the 60′s were coming back. With the Occupy Wall Street movement gathering strength and more voices being added, the spectre is back isn’t it?

We still have many of the issues from the 60′s that haunt us all, but I would have to say that I am going to amend this statement with a time shift as well as political bent. I would have to say that this movement has much more akin with the 70′s than the 60′s.

In the 70′s we had the Vietnam war still ongoing. We had Nixon and the excesses of his grab at illegal wiretapping and wet-work in the US as well as outside. When it all came to light with the publishing of the Pentagon Papers as well as the exposure of the “Plumbers” by Woodward and Bernstein we got a peek into executive malfeasance. Compare that to today post GWB and two wars post 9/11…

No wonder we all don’t trust our government huh? Now though, we have the elephant in the room added to the mix of business and money seeking to control the government through lobbying and other chicanery.

Frankly, it took an economic apocalypse to wake people up to it all..

My Conclusions On All of This

I foresee “interesting times” ahead. This movement will continue and likely will have no real effect in the short term on how our government is being run (primarily meaning going to the highest bidder). However, I think that this movement may in fact spawn the youth of today to action.

Action meaning that they will take an interest in the system and perhaps seek ways to improve it. My hope is that they do and that someday things get a bit more cleaned up but, that may not be for some time. The sad truth of it though, is that for every Mr. Smith going to Washington, there is another who goes without the wide eyed wonder and sense of honesty who just seeks to puff themselves up and line their pockets.

Another sad fact is that there may even be some altruists who go there with good intentions and then find themselves following the lead of the Mr. Potter’s of the world.

One hopes that is not the case..

K.

Cross-posted from Krypt3ia

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stephen wright I think that is a far too simplistic view of what is happening. Groups are made up of individuals and individuals are parts of society. Historically speaking whenever there has been discrimination or economic instability, voices rise up in the populace...on this and that ...most times this crucible of confrontation does not boil over...but sometimes it does and if left unchecked can explode.

In the past, there was great risk at "speaking out" and even greater risk to those who did something subversive to the existant system. Communication between conspirators was also hard and fraught with danger. However in the age of the internet, anonymity and ease of communication along with the "instantaneous" paradigm. Allows for and indeed I argue promotes...the rising of voices of dissent, in that there will always be those that disagree..and when you add the democitization of most of the world...we now have a very explosive mix...

The Arab Spring was nothing more than the first signs of the global kettle boiling...then came anon..now we have Occupy Wall Street..and new groups froming faster than the efforts to contain the dissent....which I argue is a waste of time and resources. As until the heat on individual lives in the terms of economic stability (jobs) and the lack of equivalency in society is lessened..it will continue until it explodes.

Unfortunatley the Corporations and Mega rich who have been sitting on the sidelines with their money ( and therefore influence ) attempting to starve out the populace's demands for a more fair and equivalent reality. Are now using their pent up finances in an attempt to engineer a new reality that is even more favourable to them. Groups like The Tea Party are actually financed by the rich...groups like Anon are financed by the poor....so they will ultimatley loose. But have no doubt..that there will be an explosion. The shame is that the noble goals of groups like the Tea Party are held by average people who are being duped...the groups like Anon...have no legitimate or noble goals..yet they also are made up of average citizens...who are being duped by criminal elements and nefarious purposes. The only thing in my opinion that will reduce the heat on us all will be a greater understanding of the truth...in a more fair economic environment..but I am skeptical that it will happen.
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Krypt3ia Oh Craig... I mean Steven... I disagree
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Craig S Wright @K It is not me. I do not hide my identity if this is what you think in saying "Craig".

And the thing is... I disagree with Stephen.

I would not say the 60's are returning, I think this will be something different.
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Trent Williams @stephen An explosion? A "more fair economic environment"? If you think the former is going to occur, you're delirious. If you think the latter, you're misinformed (ignorant). Has any "explosion" of significance occurred in any modern, developed country in history that you can point to?

Also, what would a "more fair economic environment" look like? If you take from the rich and give to the poor then we'll all be equal! For about 5 years, maybe 10, until the money naturally flows back into the hands of those that are intelligent, motivated, hard-working. Did you know that 80% of millionaires are first-generation affluent? People that worked hard to attain their wealth. Did you know that 67.4% of Americans own their home? A good majority have a mortgage, but that's still a significant source of net value. The 99% are more like the <20% if you ask me...

:)
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stephen wright @Krypt3ia... with what?
@Trent.. Did you actually read my comment..or are you just emotively jumping to conclusions?

First the term explosion is a metaphor for a situation where events exceed the norm in such a way as to cause damage. I would suggest that if youi turn your flat screen on..I am sure you have one..that you will see in the Arab Spring, The Occupy Wall Street, the wikileaks, Anon movements, Berlin bombings and recent IRA faction bombing in N.Ireland a growing pattern of dissatisfaction.My point is this is likely to get worse..how much worse depends on what you believe and part of that is what you believe will be done to adsress the root causes..not just punishment of the behaviour.

I also dont think the Nyquil I took last night at bedtime justifies me being pegged as delirious. I would ask you to note that I never suggested giving anything to anybody. I do not support lowest common denominator thinking which is what you infer..do you? As for your stats I am not sure what year they are from but currently they are innacurate. Did you also know that of those millionaire you mention that most have been bankrupt at least once? And have you considered that they may have helped cause some of the problems we now face? I dont begrudge anyone getting wealthy, great good on them...good luck keeping it. Also the housing market currently has 59.8 % of AMericans owning their own home..and they are dropping like flies. A source of net value...only if you take a very long view or are fortunate enough to be in a market that hasn't collapsed...yet.

What would a more equitable situation look like? I dont know..how about those that can afford to pay more do...rather than tax breaks, loopholes and offshore accounts? Personally I like the flat tax approach and the abolishment of the IRS...but thats just me..I am sure there are better plans.

@Craig, I agree the 60's are not returning...something far worse is coming..
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Trent Williams Delirious was a blind stab, but seeing as how you were on Nyquil it was a good guess! I did read your comments. They sounded like every other whiner I hear in relation to the #OWS stuff. It's quite possible I did emotively frame my response based upon the preconceived notion I have of capitalism-hating fear mongers. I'm not insinuating that's you, just clearing the air.

I know your use of "explosion" was a metaphor. My question stands: what metaphorical explosion of historical significance can you point to that actually altered the status quo, i.e. made a difference? I firmly support individuals rights and ability to rise up against tyranny and unfair treatment, as we're seeing with the Arab Spring. Those countries are still developing. This won't solve all their problems, but I know that you know that.

What I intended to point out in my comment was that America is different. The #OWS efforts are fruitless because they don't fully understand the ecosystem in which they're arguing and their protests won't accomplish anything. Did the events of 9/11 which exceeded the norm and caused damage change who we are or how we act? Not one bit. Did the public's perception of information security or data privacy change in the wake of Anon hacking and the sailing of the Lulz boat? Nope...

You'd have to be crazy to think taxes aren't burdensome on businesses (especially small) and corporations. Corporations work hard to deliver products people want to buy ("free market") - otherwise they go bankrupt. But you want to take more money away from "those that can afford to pay more"? Instead of taxing the "rich" we need to (1) foster a more intelligent, able, and self-sufficient citizenry and (2) force the evolution of a more efficient, minimalist government. That is all.
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stephen wright Trent..what other "explosion"..are you serious? May I first suggest you have a look at.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_revolutions_and_rebellions

By my count there are over 100..
While not all of these were related to social unrest...most were...and many of these were in countries that were considered "modern".. in their time...it is only compared to the present that they are not modern. Pay particular attention to the last 20 years..as perhaps they will fit your sensibilities better. I think because they havent happened a modern civilised country ( though the USSR begs the question )in the last 10 years..does not mean that we are immune. In fact if they had NEVER happened before, changes the likelyhood very little, in that the drivers and forces still remain existant as well as the possibility.

Your premise that America is different..meaningless i.e. non factual..in that of course America is different...so is Lithuania, Russia, China, Guatemalua etc.. There is no magic fairy dust or super glue that holds us together or sets us apart. Our destiny is what we make of it...just like everybody elses.

The OWS people are doing what people that are unhappy since time immemorial do...they complain...and at some point...they authorities will have enough and claim whatever and clean it up..then of course there will be a backlash of some other kind and some other movement will do whatever. Your right in that little will change....and thats the problem...tensions and pressure will grow unabated.

You characterization of me as a left wing whiner is so far off the mark...it has made my day..thank you.

But I'll try one last time...I NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT TAKING THE RICH's MONEY AWAY...I referenced the likelyhood that until they pay on a proportional basis relative to their wealth...the situation will not get better. Thats it.

Though I should correct myself in that better depends if you are one of the ones doing well or one of the many more who arent. I am out of here...believe what you will..and I suggest you start a vegetable garden.
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