Felix Stalder on Sat, 26 Feb 2011 23:18:50 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Questions concerning Wikileaks

On Friday February 25 2011, Florian Cramer wrote:
> How many people are aware of the facts that:

> - There is no Wiki in Wikileaks?

Everyone who paid only the most cursory of attention. This has been widely 
discussed, not the least by WikiLeaks. JA speaks in very interview I've 
seen in the last year about the negative experience they had with the wiki-
based approach. 

> - There is, currently, no Wikileaks Internet service for 
>   leaking documents at all?

Again, everyone who does even the most basic "research". I mean, it's on 
top of the submissions page.


> - That the above wasn't a result of external pressures but internal 
>   trouble and schisms in the Wikileaks project?

I'm not sure about the first one. This has as much to do with learning how 
news media work as with internal pressures. But, then again, how do you 
separate internal from external pressures. Often external pressure is 
applied to create internal schisms. 

Granted, one might argue that when preparing to run a project like this, 
then one must create an organization that can insulate itself from external 
pressures. But that's a very tall order. And a very Germanic, procedural 

> - Wikileaks' collaboration with news media such as The Guardian and Der 
>   Spiegel was based on payments to Wikileaks, with Wikileaks working as 
>   an 'information broker with a funny name' (Dmytri Kleiner)? 

Of course they are an information broker, or, even worse, a middle man. 
But, the question is, how have they done the brokering and is it earning 
them the trust of whistleblowers so that they keep submitting information. 
It's hard to tell what happens next, but over the last few years, they seem 
to have done a number of things right, in term of brokering. A lot of good 
information was submitted to them. 

> - Assange signed a one million dollar book contract?

Hard to say, but JA definitely wasn't shy about it. I mean, he is -- like 
many Anglo hackers -- a free market libertarian, so in his word view, 
getting rich is not a problem. I don't share that view, but he is upfront 
about it.


> - In May 2010, Assange announced a $100,000 defense fund for 
>   Bradley Manning but not a single cent was ever paid? (according
>   to Daniel Domscheit-Berg)

Patrice already mentioned that they paid and the support networks seems 
happy about it.


> Why does noone discuss whether it wouldn't be safer for whistleblowers
> to directly contact a news medium like The Guardian instead of using an
> intermediary? (Credits to Dmytri again.)

Safer than what? And safer to whom? So far, WikiLeaks has been very 
successful in protecting its sources. The fact that Manning was arrested is 
most definitely not related to any security breach by Wikileaks. Manning 
chatted with Adrian Lamo who called the FBI. 

Personally, I'm really glad the US embassy cables where not leaked to Der 
Spiegel exclusively. If all we knew was what has been published by them, we 
would know a lot less. 

The publication format established by Wikileaks most recently -- time-
limited exclusive cooperation with mass media and then full, independent 
publication of the source material is innovative and intelligent. It has 
been a boon to smaller media outlets, independent journalists and 
activists. All in all, this format is definitely more promising than simply 
hoping Der Spiegel would be a good job. 

I'm very surprised that this is suggested as a better solution by Florian 
who ran a blog 5 years devoted to the mistakes Der Spiegel made when 
covering Internet issues.


--- http://felix.openflows.com ----------------------- books out now:
*|Deep Search.The Politics of Search Beyond Google.Studienverlag 2009
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions.Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 

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