Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman Studies an Elusive Tribe: Computer Hackers

Author: 
Carrie Golus, AB'91, AM'93
Photo Credit: 
Pierre Arsenault

In 2011 Gabriella Coleman, AM'99, PhD'05, the Wolfe chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill University, was interviewed by journalists more than 80 times.

Coleman studies Anonymous, which began as an online hacker group and transformed into a subversive protest group. Anonymous had been around since 2008, when a group of hackers ganged together to harass the Church of Scientology, mostly for the lulz (mean-spirited amusement, a term derived from lol, laughing out loud). In late 2010 the mainstream media began paying attention. That's when Anonymous, angry that Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal had frozen the accounts of classified-information publisher WikiLeaks, launched an attack that shut down the companies' servers.

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