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Anonymous is the Panther Moderns

I’m sure you’ve all read the news circulating regarding Anonymous’ take-down of certain websites linked to the WikiLeaks situation. A spokesman recently told The Guardian that Anonymous wishes to be a force for “chaotic good” and that they are “trying to make an impact on what happens with the limited knowledge they have.” Their relation to the WikiLeaks situation may be the group’s most well-known act thus-far but they already have a history of standing up in the name of freedom of information.

What’s fascinating however isn’t necessarily the societal ramifications or the ethical questions inherent in their actions. What’s fascinating is that the idea of Anonymous, which as a group began no earlier than 2003, was predicted with startling accuracy by William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer.

Panther Moderns were a loosely-associated group of teenage “terrorists”. They were “mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic technofetishists.”¬†Anonymous, whenever they gather in public, wear Guy Fawkes masks to conceal their identity. The Panther Moderns wear mimetic polycarbon suits to render themselves nearly invisible. The Moderns are seen, in one event in the book, spoofing distress calls to misdirect authorities, and planting false images in computer systems to incite terror. This results in the mass slaughter of innocent people. The Moderns perpetrate acts of actual violence, but it’s easy to see how Anonymous could at some point grow out of simple DDoS attacks and graduate to something stronger.

9 December 2010