Shirky and Bady: 2010’s best Wikileaks coverage

Earlier this month I reprised my annual search for the year’s most influential reflections on technology and media. I was particularly curious to learn who was provoking thinking for one of the year’s biggest stories, Wikileaks.

I received feedback from friends, colleagues and strangers via email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and on this blog. Here’s a summary of the Wikileaks wisdom sent my way.

Two blogs posts were mentioned more than any others.

Over the last two weeks of the year several people have highlighted Bruce Sterling’s Wikileaks and Jaron Lanier’s Wikileaks posts; David Cohn highlighted Gabriella Coleman’s response to Sterling.

Wikileaks, of course, existed prior to November. Back in the spring, I appreciated the context George Packer provided to the “Collateral Murder” video. Stephen Colbert’s Assange interview was also among the best pieces of the spring’s WIkileaks coverage. (“You have edited this tape, and given it a title. That’s not leaking–that’s a pure editorial.”) In May Ryan Sholin looked at the relationship between Wikileaks and Tor (“If Tor is just a platform that doesn’t make any judgments of its use, how do we then judge the acts of a lone WikiLeaks/Tor volunteer?”). Danny O’Brien answered 10 Questions on Wikileaks. Raffi Khatchadourian wrote a major piece in the New Yorker in June. In July, Jay Rosen wrote about “the world’s first stateless news organization.”

For his part, Rosen liked Simon Jenkins’ coverage.

It is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets…What this saga must do is alter the basis of diplomatic reporting….[C]oupled with the penetration already allowed under freedom of information, the walls round policy formation and documentation are all but gone. All barriers are permeable. In future the only secrets will be spoken ones. Whether that is a good thing should be a topic for public debate.

Jim Newcomb referred to one of the year’s best-selling books and one of my favorite MSM blogs to contextualize Wikileaks:

What has me thinking the most is the weird juxtaposition of the Wikileaks and the release of Mark Twain’s previously “unexpurgated autobiography” 100 years after his death and a New York Times Opinionator piece on how Lincoln agitated for the Civil War.

UC Berkeley’s Paul Grabowicz pointed to Wired’s “comprehensive and valuable” coverage.

Hari Sreenivasan pointed out Roy Revie’s Wikileaks and 21st Century Statecraft.

While the State Department extolls the virtues of online dissidence – enshrining it as a key foreign policy concern – cracks are beginning to appear in their resolve for a generalised ‘internet freedom’.  While attempting to provide practical and material support for digital activists (which is proving extremely controversial in itself, see this and this) the State Department’s attempt to pick and choose which aspects of internet freedom it likes is forcing the mask from ‘21st Century Statecraft’.  The irony is that where the ‘internet freedom’ mantra is often no more than a guise for opposition funding in ‘unfriendly’ countries, the rhetoric is catching on and is being mobilized in defense of Wikileaks.

Gordon Wright liked the Economist’s coverage.

If Mr Assange has broken American law, it is there that he should stand trial, just like Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the stolen documents. If not, it may be some consolation that the cables so far reveal a largely flattering picture of America’s diplomats: conscientious, cool-headed, well-informed, perceptive and on occasion eloquent.

I agree with those who found Evgeny Morozov’s Twitter coverage to be helpful.

Benjamen Walker provided the best audio report on Wikileaks that I heard on his show Too Much Information.

Craig Simon found “the podcast discussion between self-described “friends of the Internet” Dave Winer and Jay Rosen… one of the most insightful things I’ve heard, especially Rosen’s riff on being a journalist for the sake of “creating conditions where people can arrive at the truth.”

Lucas Daily liked Paul Carr’s “social, comedic and speedy take on the issue on Techcrunch.”

I hate Julian Assange. I hate the way he’s posing as a champion of truth and justice whilst hiding in the shadows and resorting to blackmail in a drawn-out attempt to avoid having to answer criminal charges in a publicly-accessible court of law. I hate the fact that he’s trading on a myththat We The People have a right to know everything our governments are saying and doing in our name when, in fact, we elect people to act in our best interests…[W]ith this most recent round of leaks, the organisation has actually become a sworn enemy of openness.

Henry Farrell looks at State Power and the Response to Wikileaks, in which he quotes himself:

A small group of privileged private actors can become “points of control”—states can use them to exert control over a much broader group of other private actors.

Jonathan Zittrain with Molly Sauter put together a Wikileaks FAQ on his Future of the Internet blog.

Micah Sifry’s list of “essential” Wikileaks posts on TechPresident includes many of the ones listed here. (Micah and Andrew Rasiej organized thePDFLeaks “flash conference.)

In  his Gov 2.0 Year in Review, Alex Howard aptly pointed out that  Wikileaks is “a reminder that the disruption new technology platforms pose will often emerge in unexpected ways.”

That was a late, abbreviated list. What’s influenced your thinking about Wikileaks?


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