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A PdF Reader on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom [UPDATED II]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, December 10 2010

Here's a list of essential posts on current Wikileaks controversy, starting with coverage by techPresident's editors and including posts by the various speakers in Personal Democracy Forum's December 11 New York City symposium on Wikileaks and internet freedom, plus others we've found useful and/or provocative.


Micah L. Sifry, "From Wikileaks to OpenLeaks, Via the Knight News Challenge," December 17, 2010. How a $532,000 grant the Knight Foundation decided not to award fits into a creative split in the WikiLeaks organization and the creation of a less centralized engine for safe leaking, OpenLeaks.

Nick Judd, "The Art of Anonymous," December 16, 2010. How the hive mind recognizes itself, design-wise.

Nancy Scola, "The Web's Social Contract: Does It Exist? Are Wikileaks Takedowns Breaking It?," December 9, 2010. What does it mean "when a platform like a Twitter or a Facebook or a Tableau run[s] away from content that they might find objectionable, unpleasant or inconvenient?"

Micah L Sifry, "After Wikileaks: The Promise of Internet Freedom, For Real," December 5, 2010. "While I am not 100% sure I am for everything that Wikileaks has done is and is doing, I do know that I am anti-anti-Wikileaks. The Internet makes possible a freer and more democratic culture, but only if we fight for it."

Nick Judd, "Wikileaks Has More Google Juice Than Justin Bieber, But what Will Searchers See?" December 5, 2010. "The best way to get people to look at something is to tell them they shouldn't; how the government's reaction to Wikileaks is backfiring."

Micah L. Sifry, "Wikileaks, Cablegate and the Transparent World We Now Live In," December 1, 2010. "Whether you like it or not, raw data dumps (in structured, searchable, mashable form) of previously private or secret information are now part of the media landscape."


Zeynep Tufekci, "WikiLeaks Exposes Internet's Dissent Tax, Not Nerd Supremacy," The Atlantic, December 22, 2010. A great rejoinder to Jaron Lanier's anti-WikiLeaks essay in the Atlantic. She writes, "During these past weeks, rather than a nerd takeover, I saw the crumbling of the facade of a flat, equal, open Internet and the revelation of an Internet which has corporate power occupying its key crossroads, ever-so-sensitive to any whiff of displeasure by the state. I saw an Internet in danger of becoming merely an interactive version of the television in terms of effective freedom of speech."

Jeff Jarvis, "Wikileaks: Power Shifts From Secrecy to Transparency," December 4, 2010. "Governments should be transparent by default, secret by necessity."

Mark Pesce, "The Blueprint," (December 6, 2010). "The failures of Wikileaks provide the blueprint for the systems which will follow it, and which will leave the state and its actors neutered."

Jay Rosen, "From Judith Miller to Julian Assange," December 9, 2010. "To understand Julian Assange and the weird reactions to him in the American press we need to tell a story that starts with Judy Miller and ends with Wikileaks."

Zeynep Tufekci, "Wikileaks is not about secret information; it's about insiders versus outsiders," December 9, 2010. "Rather than expose unknowns, I think it is more accurate to say that Wikileaks has collapsed the distinction between the “front” and “back stages” of the modern state, and exposed the gap between the day-to-day reality of modern statecraft and its civic front."

Rebecca MacKinnon, "Wikileaks, Amazon and the new threat to internet speech," December 3, 2010. "What is troubling and dangerous is that in the internet age, public discourse increasingly depends on digital spaces created, owned and operated by private companies."

Tom Watson, "Assange v. Obama," December 6, 2010. Why Julian Assange is not a harbinger of a new and better age: it is "anti-engagement, anti-development, anti-cooperation, and anti-peace."

Dave Winer, "Wikileaks on the run," December 3, 2010. "The problem isn't that Wikileaks is lying, the problem is that they're telling the truth. This is not business as usual."

Emily Bell, "How Wikileaks Has Woken Up Journalism." It is impossible not to conclude that this is a pivotal moment for journalism, its teaching and practice.

Carne Ross, "How Wikileaks Changes Things for Us All," December 1, 2010. "The presumption that governments can conduct their business in secret with one another, away from the prying eyes of the public, died this week."


Bruce Sterling, "The Blast Shack," December 22, 2010. If you weren't already sure that we are living in some kind of cyber-punk novel come to life, longtime sci-fi author and cultural critic Bruce Sterling puts it all together in this essay. A few snippets: The National Security Agency as the anti-WikiLeaks...Bradley Manning's new "tortured media-freak" condition...Julian Assange as the "one-man global McDonald’s of leaks" who "has hacked a superpower"...Sterling broods: "As a novelist, you gotta like the deep and dark irony here. As somebody attempting to live on a troubled world… I dunno. It makes one want to call up the Red Cross and volunteer to fund planetary tranquilizers." Whoa.

Ethan Zuckerman et al, "Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites," The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, December 20, 2010. "In this paper, we explore the specific phenomenon of DDoS attacks on independent media and human rights organizations, seeking to understand the nature and frequency of these attacks, their efficacy, and the responses available to sites under attack. Our report offers advice to independent media and human rights sites likely to be targeted by DDoS but comes to the uncomfortable conclusion that there is no easy solution to these attacks for many of these sites, particularly for attacks that exhaust network bandwidth."

Ethan Wilkes, "Generation Wiki's Web Savvy," The Morningside Post (Columbia University), December 11, 2010. " the absence of a far more heavily restricted internet we live in a Wikileakable world. No matter how secure our servers, how rigorous our clearance processes or how thorough our legislation, we will never eradicate the human element from security or the technological platforms on which treasure troves of classified documents, corporate secrets or other private data can be obtained and blasted across the public domain. The million-dollar question that nobody seems to be asking is: where do we go from here?"

Jaron Lanier, "The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: The Case of Wikileaks," The Atlantic, December 2010. "The Wikileaks method punishes a nation -- or any human undertaking -- that falls short of absolute, total transparency, which is all human undertakings, but perversely rewards an absolute lack of transparency. Thus an iron-shut government doesn't have leaks to the site, but a mostly-open government does.
If the political world becomes a mirror of the Internet as we know it today, then the world will be restructured around opaque, digitally delineated power centers surrounded by a sea of chaotic, underachieving openness. Wikileaks is one prototype of a digital power center, but others include hedge funds and social networking sites."

Josh Halliday and Tom Arthur, "WikiLeaks: Anonymous Hierarchy Emerges," The Guardian, December 16, 2010. Is Anonymous actually run by "a hidden cabal of around a dozen highly skilled hackers co-ordinating attacks across the web"?

FAIR, "What We Learn From Wikileaks," December 16, 2010. While some commentators argue that the released cables mainly show US diplomats in a benign light, here's a list of revelations that may color that view.

David Rieff, "Wikileaks and the Cyber Wars to Come," The New Republic, December 14, 2010. "For better or worse, the Wikileaks model is here to stay."

Roy Revie, "WikiLeaks and 21st Century Statecraft," December 8, 2010. "Have 250,000 leaks sunk the State Department’s ‘Internet Freedom’ policy?"

Jonathan Zittrain, "Wikileaks FAQ" December 7, 2010. Nailing down the facts of the situation.

Aaron Bady, "Julian Assange and the computer conspiracy: 'to destroy this invisible government,'" November 29, 2010. Explores whether Assange is less interested in transparency than in making it harder for centralized governments to function.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, "Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act, December 7, 2010. "[The] latest WikiLeaks release demonstrates Mr. Assange's willingness to disseminate plans, comments, discussions and other communications that compromise our country."

See also this compendium from the International Journalism Festival.

More to come (and add your favorites in the comments thread)...