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The Anonymous hackers: Are they really the Borg?

In an instant-chat interview with The Economist, the group attacking sites that have offended WikiLeaks offer a glimpse into their "Star Trek" psyche.

We've learned one new detail about the group of hackers attacking sites that have offended WikiLeaks: They seem to be fond of "Star Trek."

The British magazine The Economist yesterday scored an instant-messaging interview with members of the hacking group Anonymous, which in recent days has attacked sites belonging to Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, just to name a few. They don't seem to be connected in any way to WikiLeaks or its embattled head, Julian Assange. But they are willing to attack sites they believe are blocking the work of WikiLeaks.

The Economist's reporter (who is, ironically, anonymous, since The Economist typically doesn't use bylines) appears flummoxed by the "hive" behavior of the Anonymous hackers, and there's little news to be had from the interview, other than Anonymous culls its members from all over the world and some of them might be worried about getting into trouble. But the interviewer does miss one notable point: The hackers in the chat are imitating the Borg, a predatory collective alien species from the newer "Star Trek" series and movies.

"We are Everywhere. We are everyone. We are Anonymous," one hacker writes, erasing all the other conversation messages. That, of course, would be just like the Borg to talk with one voice. There are other subtle "Trek" references: Their "hive" mentality, in which no one is in charge and all are in charge, is likely a reference to the Borg's insect-like culture. And the description of their attacks as a "low-orbit ion cannon" is a reference to a type of weapon that's popped up now and again in different "Trek" shows.

All of which, of course, adds up to very little insight as to who the Anonymous hackers are, other than they know a lot about "Star Trek." Did anyone think hackers grew up reading Jane Austen books?