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January 27, 2008

Filed under: culture»internet

This Just In: Cake, Xenu Are Lies

Last week Warren Ellis linked to a video declaration of the War on Scientology:

The "war" takes the form of distributed denial of service attacks, pranks, and media stunts aimed at getting information about Scientology's scam efforts out into the wider consciousness, despite the organization's efforts to suppress such things (including the video Tom Cruise released recently). The activists, a group called Anonymous, call their effort Project Chanology. The press release is available here.

Anonymous has also "spoken" to scientology's followers:

Now they (so far as we can say "they" when referring to a group of decentralized, nameless vigilantes) have released a third video using the voice of Portal's GLaDOS:

I find this fascinating. Is it useful, or necessary? Are there honestly people who still believe that Scientology is not a cult? I have my doubts. But the concept behind the attacks--self-organizing anarchists coordinating online, much like the flash mobs that flared up a few years ago and still sometimes occur--is one of those weird curveballs that the Internet throws out every so often. Is it intrinsic to the medium? Or the product of the technolibertarian ethos that eventually creeps into everything online? I don't think these are idle questions. Spend enough time online, you tend to start thinking that "Internet = Freedom." I might not disagree with that, but it needs to be examined carefully, because I don't believe it's inescapably true.

It's worth noting, of course, that Anonymous is concerned largely with information control and censorship. In this way, it is certainly inspired by the same worries over privacy that motivate copyleft crusaders. They can be somewhat effective, because their opponent is also primarily interested in controlling the flow of information and rhetoric. This is either way ahead of its time, or it's a middle-class affectation created by angry teenagers. Again: welcome to the Internet.

In other Aperture Science imitation news, DC-area pastry vendor cakelove has started using some interesting iconography in its signage. I could only find the one example online, but there are others:

I'm sure it's just a common design element that led to Valve's use of similar warnings for cake-obsessed video game Portal:

(the cake is a lie)

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