It seems to be considered a given at this point that Pittsburgh Anons will be taking part in Operation Party Hard, the next tentatively-planned raid on Saturday, March 15, 2008.
Now, considering the press that Anonymous and the Pittsburgh Anons have gotten with the first demonstration, it is quite possible that we're attracting a new demographic of people who are interested in participating for the next round. I'm writing here as a way of eliciting ideas for the handling of an influx of new potential protesters.
Currently, the Anonymous protesters seem to be college-aged or recently graduated from college, Internet-savvy/obsessed, and reasonably in keeping with the necessity of keeping identities discreet, obeying local codes of conduct for peaceful protests, not giving in to the temptation of directly confronting members of CoS, etc.
But last time, Anonymous was pretty easy to keep under control. The vast majority of us were either active posters or friends of active posters in such places as forums.enturbulation.org, Something Awful, or CoSplay, and as a result updates were easy to dispense, rules easy to lay down, and so on.
I'm beginning to get the sense that next time, we're going to have a whole slew of newbies involved. And while the greater exposure and with it the increased support from the local community is a wonderful, wonderful thing, I personally believe it is a double-edged sword.
Case in point: I have an annoying little sister who has never heard of 4chan, rickrolling, neckbeards, Guy Fawkes, or goons. She likes such things as Hannah Montana and cute purses. However, she tells me that my high school alma mater is abuzz with news of Project Chanology and the Pittsburgh protest. Because she is a flipping idiot, she has semi-outed me, no doubt due to her immense pride in my actions, to her classmates. As a result, she has been inundated with offers to "help" with Party Hard.
Needless to say, I reamed her out for her ignorance regarding WHY the group had to remain Anonymous. I don't think she quite managed to convey to others the importance of this aspect of our movement. And it makes me uneasy that the only real way we have to communicate with this group is by using her as a proxy.
I wouldn't be blogging this if I didn't suspect this high school incident of being a microcosm of the situation that is about to arise in the weeks leading up to Party Hard. Basically, the next generation of Anonymous is going to be well-intentioned but more unpredictable and difficult to communicate with en masse.
Please comment with suggestions for handling the participation in the next protest. Despite the drawbacks of it all, I still believe there is strength in numbers and that surpassing fifty for the next event will be a win for us, so I don't want to write off new protesters.