• Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy

  • The Many Faces of Anonymous
  • By: Gabriella Coleman
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (149 ratings)

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Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy  By  cover art

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy

By: Gabriella Coleman
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
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Publisher's Summary

Here is the ultimate book on the worldwide movement of hackers, pranksters, and activists that operates under the non-name Anonymous, by the writer the Huffington Post says "knows all of [Anonymous's] deepest, darkest secrets."

Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of this global phenomenon just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption. She ended up becoming so closely connected to Anonymous that the tricky story of her inside-outside status as Anon confidante, interpreter, and erstwhile mouthpiece forms one of the themes of this witty and entirely engrossing book. The narrative brims with details unearthed from within a notoriously mysterious subculture, whose semi-legendary tricksters - such as Topiary, tflow, Anachaos, and Sabu - emerge as complex, diverse, politically and culturally sophisticated people. Propelled by years of chats and encounters with a multitude of hackers, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is filled with insights into the meaning of digital activism and little-understood facets of culture in the Internet age.

©2014 Gabriella Coleman (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A consistently fascinating ethnography...An intensive, potent profile of contemporary digital activism at its most unsettling - and most effective." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A Bit like Listening to a Police Scanner

​Disclosure: I still had an hour or two to go, but I just can't... For most of the book, I've been trying to hold on for the good part. So in this review, I'm going to try to warn off others who might share my tastes, while leaving open the possibility that others may see things differently. Okay? Here goes...​​

First of all, the book is rife with things that I guess all fall under the rubric of cyber addresses. If I were reading, I'd breeze past them. In an audio book, they all have to be read aloud. Maybe these strings of numbers and symbols are meaningful to some people. To me it was like someone reading serial numbers off the back of discarded electronics.

Maybe there aren't as many as it seems (hundreds? maybe thousands?), but I felt like I was frequently checking out, waiting for the natural language to start again. The reader does a good job getting through them without much delay, but she's still got to read them and it takes time.

Then as a story I couldn't really care about these people and I did try. It's most definitely not Mr. Robot or the hacking subplot in House of Cards, which are probably totally unrealistic. What do I know?... except that they kept my attention.

We rarely find out what personally motivates these people we hear from, so it was really hard for me to identify with them, to love them or to despise them. (I do fear them. Many times in drafting this review, I've written and deleted confessions that I fear these people will come after me for having written any kind of honest review at all. I guess in the end I have to trust they really do value freedom of expression.) We learn that some are motivated by lols, and that the prankster is a recurrent mythical character, but why should these particular people be so motivated by mayhem? For another example, some of the hackers go ballistic when one of their group gives an interview and makes himself sound more important than he is... but WHY? Who cares? The world is full of blowhards. But what in these people's characters, experiences, histories makes this error so grievous? Is it the same motivation for each of them or are there idiosyncratic motivations? Unless I missed something, which is entirely possible, we never really learn that sort of thing. I'm not sure the author even knows.

Finally, there's a lot of rather tedious recounting of rudderless IR chats. It's the nature of leaderless organizations to be rudderless, I get it, but that doesn't make for interesting reading/listening ... not for me anyway.

Maybe the meaty anthropological analysis came right at the end, but for many hours it's like... well, in a lot of ways it's like listening to a police scanner. It's mostly just "stuff", especially if you aren't in-the-know already, and you hope something exciting will happen, but there's no guarantee.

I'm sure this book would appeal to some people, just like listening to a police scanner appeals to some people, but I just couldn't wait until I was liberated to go listen to something else.

10 people found this helpful

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Hard to Endure.

This is a great book. The stories and play by play is great. What makes it hard to listen to is her voice.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Some old and new info on Anonymous

I got through half the book before I got new information on this subject. A lot of it has already been depicted in the movie (mentioned also in this book) "We are Legion". It was nice to have that reference to look back on when listening to the details of what transpired in the early days of Anonymous. I highly suggest that the prospective listener samples the audio performance before committing to this audiobook. The narrator has received a lot of bad reviews on her previous performances. I didn't mind her too much, but was ready for the novel to be over with. The author is sympathetic to the cause to a certain extent, so if you do not want to hear this group being accolated then steer away. This book though new on audible, is an older book. Otherwise it was very interesting. I'm glad I spent the credit but could see how others may not be too thrilled.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Most irritating voice actor I’ve come across so far

I bought this title because the topic is very interesting to me, as someone who works in cyber security myself. Honestly, it was a disappointment. To start with, the author tries, unsuccessfully, to use an edgy type language, laced with misplaced profanity, just to sound cool, and honestly attempts to make it sound more dangerous than it really was. Then, there’s the voice actor. I don’t understand how this voice actor was picked to voice a book like this. It is the most irritating voice actor I’ve come across so far in an audiobook, to the point that, as much as I tried, I was not capable of listening past the second chapter. I’m usually not this critical about someone’s talent or abilities, and maybe it’s not even her fault. Her type of voice and technique is more appropriate for an children’s book, not a topic like this, so, maybe she should invest in those categories of book and be successful. She was not successful for this type of book.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good, but sometimes lacks objectivity

3.5 stars.

Good book by an anthropologist who studied the collective Anonymous. She clearly spent years on her subject, and attempted to immerse herself to be able to explain their dynamics, structure (or lack thereof), myriad motivations, and societal impact. And as a window into the major doings of Anonymous, she largely succeeds in giving the reader that vantage point. However, she often seems to have lost some of the arms length objectivity that most scientists strive for, and her sympathies and amusement with her subject often taint the work product. Not quite as good as Parmy Olson's "We Are Anonymous" (which had a snappier writing style and felt more like investigative journalism), but a worthy entry into the cataloging of Anonymous.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Parmy Olson's write-up is better

Lots of chronology mismatches/redundancies. Parmy Olson's book is, frankly, a better read. Not horrible, but this version drones a bit. Reading of hyperlinks is tiresome.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Informative and interesting

This book examines Anonymous through an anthropological lens. Fascinating and in-depth. Energetic narrator is easy to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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A Geopolitical, Social, and Financial Wakeup Call!

Anonymous is the new nearly-invisible political party, regulatory compliance officer, journalist, and badass disruptive addition to our world view whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

Gabriella Coleman's outsider's-on-the-inside perspective provides a salient, objective, and empathic view into this ungoverned, un-unified, irreverent dark nation of badass wake-your-shit-up whistleblowers.

Definitely an eye-opening and enlightening read for anyone interested in the way the world really works.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

A worthwhile listen.

It is a good overview of Anonymous and hacker culture. It draws some interesting conclusions about the the topic, but at times gets bogged down in details of particular events and conversations that make the story drag.

1 person found this helpful

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Great look into the world of anons

Well written, well spoken, and so far my favourite work on anonymous. the author put in the time to understand the topic and translate the lulz.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Matt
  • Matt
  • 05-02-17

A thorough insight into Anonymous

if you're looking for a complete and in-depth account of the history of Anonymous, then I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful