I'll be the first to say that I'm not the kind to sit for more than a five-minute video. If we're talking a ten-minute clip -- even if from the funniest show under the sun -- you will need to restrain me with force. I may have a soft spot for technology, but clearly television (and spin-offs such as Netflix, Hulu, and the like) just isn't my thang. Monday and Tuesday marked ASU's cute attempt at providing students with a fall break. (It's okay, the effort was appreciated.) Eye-rolls aside, it provided a great opportunity to work a little from home...and when I get tired of my desk, I tend to gravitate toward the (far comfier) couch.
Because a wealth of my cyber-attack-related research now addresses Anonymous and similar hacktivist groups, within the last week I stumbled across a documentary that sounded directly relevant to my interests: We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (dir. Brian Knappenberger), which interviews the likes of Richard Thieme and (a personal favorite) Gabriella Coleman.
So while pounding through data analyses, I thought it harmless to give this documentary a try...and was sucked in within minutes.
The film gives a great, although slightly hurried, overview of some of Anonymous's key attacks since 2005. Past or present Anonymous members often frequent the interviewee "stand", which -- although commendable on the part of a daring director -- occasionally worked against one of the film's overarching motives. While the director fought to portray Anonymous as a multifaceted, diverse group across age, gender, background, ethnicity, and digital literacy, there were a handful of moments that seemed to scream "teenage boys trying to feel powerful in the only way they know how".
This is an unfortunate assumption, because many of us do realize that Anonymous's diversity is not to be joked about lightly. Even so, a majority of the interviewees fit the young, boastful male mold of which I've grown particularly wary, given my own demographics. (For more information, see GamerGate.)
These 90 minutes flew by, and in all, I can say that I enjoyed We are Legion.
But then came the dreaded "Thanks for watching" screen that the Apple TV so readily displays after the credits have finished rolling, and I fell victim to one of the oldest marketing ploys in the book: The "Also Recommended" list.
A second documentary by director Brian Knappenberger was listed called The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
And so this became my next few hours, and what a few hours they were.
I can easily say that this was one of the best documentaries I've yet seen, and drove me from laughter to tears in that two-hour span. Viewers do not have to be fans of cyberpsychology, technology, or hacktivism to grasp the beauty of what Aaron fought for, nor of the natural curiosity that precipitated his technological genius from a very young age.
To boil this post down to a single sentence, if you're interested in topics related to cyberpsychology, please give either of these documentaries (but especially the latter, The Internet's Own Boy) a try. You won't be disappointed.