PART THE THIRD: In Which Junko Seeks Friends She Might Not Have Wanted
Depending on your age and the length of time you’ve gone without picking up an issue of Wired magazine, you may be familiar with the American forums known as 4chan.
Founded in 2003, the site has been the breeding ground for many a fledgling Internet meme. To the uninitiated, 4chan is a shocking mix of vile pornography, sophomoric humor, angst-driven social commentary, and inexplicable key stroke combinations that are interpreted by its inhabitants as brilliant comedy. It is the Internet’s equivalent of the adolescent schoolyard, populated largely by those who prefer 4chan’s digital pit of despair to the real thing. Nevertheless 4chan is a force with which to be reckoned, perhaps most clearly evidenced by its very visible and sustained campaign against the Church of Scientology.
The Junsui-related sites hit 4chan quickly and were met with (by all accounts) equal parts cynicism and paranoia. Much of the initial response was based upon the Alfa-Tsentr.ru website, which had security measures in place tracking the IP address of any user who attempted to breach its walls. (An IP address is a unique identifying code, a sort of National Insurance number for every computer on the Internet).
Once visitors to Alfa-Tsentr.ru realized that their location been identified and recorded, many became slightly barmy and also demanding of more information. Furthermore, the plight of the girl in trapped in a white room seemed to allude to something more serious than the average Internet prank. While there were the expected detractors, the topic of the Junsui became the dominant discussion on 4chan for many days, its notoriously short attention-spanned community seemingly unified against a common enemy—Alfa-Tsentr and its ‘defilers’. The Junsui, for their part, reciprocated by announcing an alliance between ‘the followers of Moot’ (Moot being the name of the founder of 4chan). Witnessing this alliance caused waves of trepidation and anxiety from other more respectable parts of the Internet.
Other forums and blogs around the world, meanwhile, had alerted their audiences to the existence of the ‘Little Bird’ trapped in a room. The high prevalence of this topic on Spanish, German, Japanese, and Korean language blogs seems to indicate that Junko’s postings and tweets were being syndicated rapidly into multiple languages. These audiences, despite language barriers, proved to be faster and smarter in reacting to and interpreting Junko’s messages than many of their English-speaking peers.
During the rise of the erstwhile Junsui-4chan alliance, there were some members of the aforementioned ‘ARG community’ who believed that some devices utilized by the Junsui, including their referring to unFiction members by their ‘real’ names, gave them license to indulge in their own brand of questionable Internet conduct. And so the stage was set for a nasty conflict between the Junsui’s old enemies and their newly branded allies.
Now here again we hit a bit of controversy. One can, in all fairness, view the individuals involved as being some of the more resourceful members of these communities. Their actions are, in light of the circumstances, somewhat justified and so now there began a coordinated effort to ‘peek behind the curtain’. This no holds barred investigation into potential co-conspirators involved with the Junsui project involved remarkable resourcefulness. From scouring lines of code to tracking and reviewing the content of non-protected logs used by web hosting companies, all avenues were exhausted. It is simultaneously impressive (and a bit chilling) to watch the resources available to the savvy young pairs of hands who make up the more inquisitive subset of the Internet Generation.
In time, a party was identified who seemed to in some way be involved with the creation of some of the online materials. Searches conducted on this individual revealed him to be a web designer who had released sophisticated campaigns in the past. Utilizing tools that scour the deleted pages of the Internet of the past (where nothing can truly be forgotten), a help-wanted posting was found from a few years prior in which this individual was seeking to employ a Flash developer to aid in the construction of an online project which sounded reasonably similar to the original Junsui Project webpage.
The Junsui responded to these probings with vitriol. They averred that their existence was not part of some viral ad campaign but rather that there were real lives at stake. When one particularly tenacious investigator began posting details of the Junsui server’s file structures, the women became incensed. As before, they denounced their attackers (who had been hiding behind online aliases) by their real life names.
I find this focus upon names interesting. It is true that it is basically impossible to hide forever online (a fact which I am myself foolishly ignoring by publishing my research notes here). By posting the names of their perceived enemies, the Junsui were both calling attention to the fact that they were powerful enough to surveil the activities of many, as well as defending their abilities to carry on their propaganda as they see fit. Some of the denounced, for whom I have unreserved pity, suddenly found themselves the target of the sustained wrath of 4-chan and some of the other more fanatic Junsui supporters. In a very novel reversal of fortunes, the websites that these individuals were attempting to hack suddenly and mercilessly hacked them back.
But let us glide past these matters, as they are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of our endeavors. At the end of the day, the would-be enemies of the Junsui had found a single name they somehow associated with the entire creation of the propaganda artifice. I shan’t, in all fairness, give the man’s full name as I myself have preferred to maintain anonymity. I shall simply refer to him by his initials: PM.
(As an aside, there is some irony to this person’s initials as ‘PM’ in the ARG community typically refers to a ‘puppet master’, i.e. the leader/plotter of one of these games).
So, here we come to one of our ultimate questions; one that which, I have no doubts may ever come to any kind of full resolution. Is the identity of this individual, PM, something that can be viewed as real? Or is he but another cog within the vast wheel of another’s individual’s or organization’s design?
There is evidence to support both cases. From the available resources, it seemed PM had had aspirations to create sensual and complex web content. His personal homepage (recently taken down) had been somewhat of a pastiche of various forms of noir-ish atmosphere. As you will see when I have the time to write up the remainder of this tale, he will continue to play a role.
So, is he real?
I believe he is. Or at least that there such an individual was indeed possessed of life prior to these events. Not to overly foreshadow, but one (of several) lasting un-clarities is what his life amounts to at present.
(Now cue the Bernard Herrmann-esque score.)
At around the time of the aforementioned 4chan incident, a series of ‘coincidences’ took place which greatly alarmed some. A clear split had already been developing between those who felt threatened by the Junsui’s modus operandi and those who wholly embraced their increasingly nihilistic tendencies…
There was one incident in which the Junsui seemed to predict, within an hour, the timing of a suicide bomb attack in the Caucus Mountains region (by separatists in their beloved ancestral land of ‘Circassia’). The Junsui announced on both Twitter and their Facebook that ‘an attack was coming’ and lo, it did. This event, along with many other complaints relating to bank fraud, computer crime, and even pornography were reported in turn to the American FBI by very likely over-imaginative consumers.
This episode can be seen, in a sense, as the nadir of the drama, the all-too-long end of the second act in which catastrophe and redemption are decided by two vindictive schoolmates at a game of conkers. My apologies if my postings have grown overlong in size. I have only limited time to write and I’m trying to cover the material in broad strokes. I can promise that some form of redemption is at hand. I return, for now, to the evenings of Albion. May we soon meet again.
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- 20/09/2009 / 22:57