Gabriella Coleman at Columbia, November 13, 12-2pm

Columbia Communications Colloquium

Gabriella Coleman (NYU), Old and New Net Wars Over Free Speech

270B IAB noon – 2:00pm, Thursday November 13
Old and New Net Wars over Free Speech, Freedom and Secrecy or How to Understand the Hacker and Lulz battle against the C0$

In this talk I present a cultural history and political analysis of one of the oldest Internet wars, often referred to as “Internet vs Scientology,” which in recent times has witnessed a different incarnation in the form of “Project Chanology,” which is orchestrated by a group called Anonymous who has led a series of online attacks and real world protests against Scientology. I argue that to understand the significance of these battles and protests, we must examine how the two groups stand in a culturally antipodal relation to each other. Through this analysis of cultural inversion,  I will consider how long-standing liberal ideals take cultural root in the context of these battles, use these two cases to reveal important political transformations in Internet/hacker culture between the mid 1990s and today and finally will map the tension between pleasure/freedom (the “lulz”) and moral good (“free speech”) found among Anonymous in terms of of the tension between liberal freedom and romantic/Nietzschian freedom/pleasure.

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