Daniël de Zeeuw contributed to the Book of Anonymity, edited by Anon Collective. The chapers are anonymously published, but Daniël’s chapter concerns the text: “Collective Pleasures of Anonymity: From Public Restrooms to 4chan and Chatroulette”.
This chapter explores the idea of anonymity as an impersonal social form by looking at what I consider various radical and exemplary instances thereof: the anonymous image board 4chan, the public restroom, and the random video-chat portal Chatroulette. These offline and online practices of anonymity, I argue, all in their own way sidestep both the privative logic of privacy as well as the exploitative publicness of the new platform economy ( from which privacy is supposed to offer at least some relief ). They do so by engaging in various nonexploitative forms of “ private publicness,” whose material figure is that of the fold. Building on my earlier critical genealogy of the right to privacy as a response to the democratization ofthe public sphere enabled by mass-media technologies, I aim to show that, whereas privacy attempts to establish some measure of immunity from the pervasive and pro miscuous forms of mass publicness that undergird an- onymity as a social form, the practices that I discuss in this chapter represent an attempt to progressively inhabit those strange new forms of “ impersonal intimacy.”