Anonymous members protest corrupt governments and corporation in Washington, D.C., in 2013.
- Anonymous group, transparency, and Ferguson, Missouri
The fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer raises deep questions about police racial bias and public transparency following the shooting. The New York Times and other media described the role of Anonymous, an international hacker group, which claimed to have the name of the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. “We have the name of the shooter,” the group tweeted. “We just can’t verify. We need to either talk to witnesses or get a second leak source.” Since then, the authorities in Missouri released the name of the office involved in the shooting but the incident is still shrouded in mystery and the town of Ferguson a site of unrest.
Gabriella Coleman, a professor of anthropology at McGill University who studies Anonymous, said she was taken aback that members of Anonymous would be so quick to release unverified information, and would speak so openly about their methods in online chat channels: “My jaw was dropping…because what I was seeing was suggestive but not definitive. Anonymous tends to care about its image quite a bit, and if they were wrong, it would be really bad.” Coleman is author of the forthcoming book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the Many Faces of Anonymous.
- Is the world ready for Ebola?
Mike Callaghan, a doctoral student in medical anthropology at the University of Toronto, published an article in The Province (Canada) addressing key questions about the response to infectious disease in Canada. He says, “More and more Canadians are scared of Ebola, but few of them are scared for the right reasons. Ebola is definitely deadly, but catching it is actually quite difficult. The virus is transmitted only through the contaminated body fluids of people who are visibly sick. Patients usually die so quickly that outbreaks burn out quickly. Further, the virus is effectively contained by modern health systems.”
He poses these questions for Canadians and others: How do we balance safety and freedom? What is the role of science? How can ethics guide us? When should we risk rolling out untested drugs?
Callagan concludes: “Behind Ebola, a long list of contagions lie in wait. Their arrival will bring a whole set of difficult questions about governance, science and ethics that we do not currently have answers for. That is worth worrying about.”
- Drones for cultural heritage survival
In Peru (and elsewhere), land grabs for urban development, for tourist sites, for mines, and more threaten cultural heritage site. The New York Times carried a front page article about how drones are a new tool for archaeologists, helping them to find sites and record them with hundreds of photographs. The article profiles the work of Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Peru’s vice minister of cultural heritage, an archaeologist who is also a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. He points to a series of stone walls built more than a thousand years ago by the Moche civilization that now gives way to a grid of adobe walls put up recently by land speculators. “This site is threatened on every side,” he said. (more…)