Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anonymous and the Collective Consciousness

The collective consciousness is rapidly evolving, thanks largely to the internet. Take the “group” Anonymous, for example. It originated as a reference to the anonymity behind which posters could hide online, became a meme, grew in numbers, gained complexity and organization, and became an online portal for activism around the world. While the operations carried out by the group are largely influenced by its members’ inherent biases (i.e.; Freedom of Information, a pet topic for hackers), the organization has a distinctly democratic feel: never before have activists been able to so efficiently communicate with each other and organize events around the world in the way they can now. Ideas are spreading to places where they might not otherwise, and as access to the internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the composition of Anonymous will become increasingly representative of the views of people as a whole on the international level. Between the number of people constituting the group and its mantra, “DOX or GTFO,” this emerging collective consciousness has the capacity, within the next few years, of becoming something like a science-fiction writer’s idea of a superintelligence: an entity that can independently and almost instantaneously verify or debunk any claim. While the group has focused on only a handful of initiatives so far, as it grows and assimilates more members, more and more initiatives will be added and Anonymous will come closer and closer to becoming a superintelligent activist organization.

Where it will go from there is less clear. Will Anonymous stay focused on social issues, or will it branch out into other domains, such as that of ideas? Will it become not only a voice for social change but also a portal for information? I see several possible paths for Anonymous, but one thing is certain: this group is only just getting started.

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