The Real Meaning of WikiLeaks

The Economist has a great blog post up explaining why the importance of WikiLeaks transcends Julian Assange and his merry band of leakers.  The magazine’s writer argues that we are undergoing a huge shift from paper documents that are heavy and tied to a place to electronic documents that can be moved with the click of a mouse.  The writer goes on to argue that no amount of prosecuting Assange will change that fact.

This isn’t a defense of WikiLeaks; rather, it’s an explanation of the long term impact of what this transformation means.

I’ve seen virtually no mention of this anywhere, but The Economist is essentially bringing Canadian economist Harold Innis’ ideas about media having biases of lasting a long time or of being easy to distribute.  Paper documents, which we are more used to, are heavy and hard to move.  Electronic documents don’t have a physical form, and thus can be moved with incredible ease.  (Marshall McLuhan was a lot sexier with “the medium is the message” and “global village,” but Innis makes a lot more sense to me.)

And that’s what we need to deal with when it comes to WikiLeaks.  Even going so far as executing the leaker who supplied the documents or assassinating Assangewill not change this fundamental change in the nature of our documents.

As we think about WikiLeaks and the transformations in our society that it is a sign of, remember Truth 5 – New media are always scary.

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One Response to The Real Meaning of WikiLeaks

  1. DE Teodoru says:

    Through the Bush years, Seymour Hersh was recipient verbally of secret leaks form various Gov Establishment upper-level people outraged at how strategically imbecilic were the Three Stooges (Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney) in making policies. The Pentagon brass was made up of “star whores” who served as parrots on Rumsfeld’s shoulder. Soon, the airtight Bush-it ship of state sprang leaks everywhere.

    Once Obama came to power everyone expected “CHANGE.” Alas, it turned out, Obama’s top people were inept political operatives, including SecState Clinton…not a one a statesman. As a result, Obama was totally intimidated by the DoD brass and DoS bureaucrats. For example, Petraeus, the incompetent SURGEon that botched the Iraq SURGEry insisted that, whether Afghanistan wanted it or not, it had to give him another chance to try his SURGEry because his reputation as a SURGEon was at stake. So $billions upon $billions and many lives were wasted proving, as Einstein said, that only a fool repeats the same failing process expecting a different result. Thinking “ain’t my son going to war,” Americans preferred the loss of our mom&dad soldiers instead of accepting defeat; so Obama let Petraeus prove he’s an incompetent before pulling out, which according to Woodward, Obama originally wanted to do.

    With our President intimidated by DoD brass and DoS bureaucrats, someone decided to leak a mass of their cable traffic proving what pompous asses they all are and what tactical nonsense they “officially” transmit upwards to please the strategic vanities of Obama’s SecDef and SecState. Assange only passed on to us, their employers, what they , our employees, stole from us by marking it “classified.”

    Imagine a mechanic telling you that your master computer must be replaced. You take a deep breath and say, “do it.” But, should he tell you that your whole engine is no good and must be replaced, you invariably come to believe that he’s trying to rip you off. The “ain’t my kid going to war” Americans can accept that their elected top officials are idiots that need replacement; but if told that the entire permanent bureaucracy below is faulty and needs replacement makes them go after the messenger rather than after the problem. Yet still, everyone knows that a decade of big bombs, lots of troops and $billions with no progress makes no sense. Now that Americans are busy making a list to Santa and thinking it twice, in the midst of economic collapse, telling them that the whole engine of Gov must be changed scares the Hell out of them and they try to avoid reality by saying to themselves: who can trust a guy who didn’t enter some Swedish woman wearing a condom?

    We are a declining nation of fools and the Amazon, Microsoft etc. “servers” don’t want to suffer along with the messenger. Better, they think, to shut off Wikileaks and let Congress call for the hanging of Assange’s than deal with it now. It’s like the guy who’s told he’s got cancer and he insists: don’t tell me that before the Holidays, wait till after. Damned fool!!!

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