The hacktivist collective Anonymous has gone through a significant evolution – shifting from Internet pranksters to prominent global activists. Gabriella Coleman explains the often misunderstood Anonymous phenomenon in her book, “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.”
A cultural anthropologist and professor at McGill University, Gabriella Coleman first encountered the hacktivist collective Anonymous when she was studying Scientology. The religion was an early target for the loose-knit network of online pranksters and hackers. Over the years, Coleman was able to penetrate the network to gain the trust of some of its most influential figures. Her recent book, "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous," offers a rare glimpse into their digital universe. Passcode recently spoke with her about the book and some of the common misperceptions about Anonymous. Edited excerpts follow.