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Re-thinking the datafied society through the anonymity kaleidoscope

Anonymity is a crucial issue in debates concerning technology, politics, and data justice. A new anthology offers fundamental insights into what anonymity is and why it matters. The book of anonymity focuses on the possibilities connected to and created by anonymity, how it is produced, its outcomes, and its potentials. The book looks at anonymity as a ‘mode of being and knowing’ [23], moving beyond a purely technical definition.

The social productivity of anonymity


Anonymity is under attack. In a process that started decades ago, an increasing multiplicity of forces is creating a slow, but steadily rising perfect storm. These forces include communication infrastructures like the IP-address-based Internet, cellular networks and social media platforms. Exponentially increasing storage and processing capabilities are now mounting up to big data, to be analysed with algorithms evolving out of machine learning.

The exposure of Kataryna: How Polish journalists and bloggers debate online anonymity


The events which led to the most heated debate about online anonymity in Poland begun in 2002, when a blogger using the nickname Kataryna started commenting on sport events on one of the online forums, which belonged to Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading daily quality Polish newspaper. Soon she became active on political forums, especially those related to one of the biggest corruption scandals in post-communist Poland, the so-called ‘Rywin Affair’[1].

The social productivity of anonymity

In a process that started decades ago, a multiplicity of forces is creating a slow, but steadily rising storm against anonymity. Discourses of transparency and accountability often describe anonymity as a threat. Technologies such as the IP-address-based Internet, sensory devices, and machine learning techniques further undermine anonymous encounters. In an age of near ubiquitous surveillance, anonymity is under attack. But what is at stake in such discourses and developments?

The terms of anonymity: An interview with Marit Hansen, German data protection expert


The profound changes in technologies of personal data collection have shifted our terms for understanding anonymity. As data gathering technologies are permeating various corners of our lives, a number of stakeholders are attempting to map, track, analyse and define what is happening to our identity, our privacy, or our ways of being social. These stakeholders include lawmakers and politicians, think tank members and lobbyists, entrepreneurs and marketeers, journalists and activists, legal scholars and lawyers, social scientists and computer scientists.

What can self-organised group therapy teach us about anonymity?


In this paper, I focus on the particular context of self-organised addiction-therapy where anonymity plays more than just one important role and thus serves various functions – functions which are not only vital for therapy to work but sometimes even convey a culture-critical message against social distinction, hyper-individualism and big-shotism. These functions of anonymity are considered valuable in the name of recovery and equality by members of self-organised support-groups against addiction.

The social productivity of anonymity

Issue Editors: Götz Bachmann, Michi Knecht and Andreas Wittel

Anonymity is deeply tied to the European values of liberty, equality and fraternity. Concealing one’s identity can enable freedom (as in the anonymity of speech), support equality (e.g. in anonymous application procedures), and provide the basis for non-reciprocal relationships as expressed in the value of brotherhood (e.g. asking a stranger for directions). It is capable of traversing cultural differences and is essential for many contemporary forms of sharing, communality and collaboration (e.g.

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