Ten Theses on Wikileaks

15 09 2010

by AngryPanda

Nettime has released ten theses on Wikileaks that are well worth considering. Unfortunately this is the internet and they will fall into the “too long, didn’t read” category for quite a lot of people (this is not as bad as it sounds. I think a lot of people are surfing in two-minute intervals). So I’m going to try to post a short version here.

1. Disclosures and leaks are not new but the scale in which Wikileaks does it is unprecedented. The release of the “Afghan War Logs” is without a doubt their biggest success to date. In a sense this is mostly a leap in quantity instead of quality and it can be explained by the sheer amount of data governments have to keep safe these days. A single leak can cause a virtual avalanche of secret information.

2. Wikileaks appeared virtually out of nowhere but is already playing in the biggest league of them all with major world-shaking powers like the Pentagon (At least as far as information is concerned). On one had this causes a massive boost to moral and sense of self-importance for the creators but on the other it remains to be seen if they can keep up and make it a permanent feature instead of just a hype-induced temporary phenomenon.

3. So far Wikileak’s main target has been the US-Government which has been a favorite victim of criticism both in the US and without for years now. The media sucks this stuff up.  In a sense they are riding the wave. We will see if they can have similiar successes with countries like Russia or China.

4. Wikileaks has yet to make a stand and decide if it just publishes information or also analyzes and comments it. This makes it hard to even explain or place it.

5. Investigative journalism can barely keep up with the flood of news these days and as such an archive like Wikileaks that will not only bother with the headlines of this week could be needed to step up and take over on that part. (I’d like to put in a personal opinion here and say that not only can’t journalism keep up, it doesn’t want to as the media have already decided to go to its knees and suck for whoever has power or money). The problem ist hat Wikileaks only provides this information and relies on the media to put to put it in a form for most people to understand (Which they of course won’t do because they already rolled over but again that is just a personal opinion).

6. Wikileaks is a typical single person organization. Everything it does is centralized in the hands of Julian Assange. One one had this is a strength as it allows fast reactions and a single charismatic leader to inspire but on the other hand it also depends on this person not making mistakes or tarnishing the site with his own political opinions or actions.

7. Wikileaks as an organziation deeply shaped by the 1980 hacker culture. This gives them a lot of technical versatility and a good dose of idealism but also a tendency for elitism and conspiracy theories.

8. Wikileaks has very enthusiastic but also passive supporters. It needs a constant flow of spectacular information to keep their attention.

9. Wikieleaks itself is as non-transparent as the organizations it criticises. On one hand this is understandable with a need for secrecy and protection but on the other it takes away every right they have to claim moral high ground and assures that you should take them with the same scepticism as everyone else.

10. While Wikileaks is certainly not perfect it has despite all its drawbacks, and against all odds, rendered a sterling service to the cause of transparency, democracy and openness. We might wish it to be different, but, as the French would say, if something like it did not exist, it would have to be invented.

And since this was all so serious and dry I’m going to relink this absolutely fantastic and hilarious video about the subject at hand. Just in case anyone missed it the first time.

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25 10 2010
Links of the week « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] I was on Cracked so you get a lot of that this week. Also not so flattering news about Wikileaks but that is only fair considering how I spoke out for it before. […]

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