July 15, 2010

A User’s Guide to Lulzy Media, the Pleasure of Trickery, and the Politics of Spectacle: From the Luddities to Anonymous

Category: Academic,Conferences,HOPE — Biella @ 6:23 am

One of my favorite conferences is HOPE, which I have missed the last 2 times as I was away from NYC, so I am glad I am around this year. I find it especially valuable when there is some controversy brewing in the air, as there is with Wikileaks, Adrian Lamo, and Manning.

I am also giving a talk, description below, with a fabulous postdoctoral researcher, Finn Brunton, who works on spam! But we will be talking about pleasure, trickery, and exploitable media for activists. Our talk is late, like really late: 11:00 PM on Saturday night. At first I was a bit annoyed at the scheduling but then I figured, when will i ever give a talk at 11:00 PM?

Following a brief lecture on Project Chanology, the question will be posed: how can we harness the power of lulzy virality, of pleasure, of trickery, of spectacular trolling for purposes above and beyond sharing the wisdom of Advice Dog? Itíll start with a brief look at great activist media in the past, from Guernica and the picture of the whole Earth to projects by the Yes Men – how they spread ideas and helped people get informed, organize, and act. What makes the creation of lulzy memes different? Learn about how to create exploitable forms and rapid variations, and mechanisms for bringing the best stuff forward. Can we make media memes with goals beyond lulz, and teach activists who’ve never heard of 4chan to make them too? Part lecture, part workshop, this will feature cameos by Rageguy, Pablo Picasso, V, alt.pave.the.earth, Kathe Kollwitz, Courage Wolf, Stewart Brand, Sarah Palin, Batman, Goya, Philosoraptor, Adolf Hitler, Trollface, Shepard Fairey, Joseph Ducreux, David Cameron, lots of Spartan warriors, and lots and lots of (trollish) cats.


  1. I really enjoyed your 11:00 pm presentation at HOPE – for that crowd, it was prime time!

    I was especially moved by your comment that you were reticent to write or speak openly about the Church of Scientology before Anonymous began their activities – their activism gave you freedom of speech.

    This quote from your presentation also stuck in my mind which I’m paraphrasing poorly: “Create a spectacle to get attention. Spectacles must be staged in order to dramatize the unseen and expose associations elusive to the eye.”

    Could you post the attribution or your slides from your talk?

    Super presentation, many thanks!!!!!

    Comment by Michele Moore - Happy1 — July 20, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  2. Hi Michele,

    Glad you enjoyed it! So my work on Anonymous, or at least the full presentation can be found here:



    It is a much much longer version of what I presented at HOPE.

    All the best!

    Comment by Biella — July 21, 2010 @ 7:04 am

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