The anonymous campaign against Scientology, better known among its participants as Project Chanology, continues to this day. In the months since it launched “Message to Scientology,” Project Chanology has employed a variety of tactics, including pickets, pranks, and propaganda that ranges from the purely informative to the ferociously satirical. It has waxed and waned and waned some more, and yet, improbably, it has endured, evolving into a peculiarly instructive case study in the dynamics of online protest.
Project Chanology may well be the first movement to realize the kind of ad hoc, loosely coupled social activism that many have hoped the ad hoc, loosely coupled architecture of the Internet would engender. But it’s also the first one founded on the principles of the most obnoxious innovation that architecture ever produced: trolling.