Updated Theses on WikiLeaks
From Le Monde Diplomatique/Nettime:
In the ongoing saga termed “The Decline of the US Empire,” Wikileaks enters the stage as the slayer of a soft target. It would be difficult to imagine it doing quite the same to the Russian or Chinese government, or even Singapore – not to speak of their … err … ’corporate’ affiliates. Never mind the big internationals banks and the multinational corporation Julian Assange has identified as Wikileaks’ next target. Here distinct, and huge, cultural and linguistic barriers are at work, not to speak of purely power-related ones that would need to be surmounted. Also vastly different constituencies are factors there, even if we speak about the more limited (and allegedly more globally shared) cultures and agendas of hackers, info-activists and investigative journalists. In that sense Wikileaks in its present manifestation remains a typically ’Western’ product and cannot claim to be a truly universal or global undertaking.
We do not think that taking a stand in favour or against Wikileaks is what matters most. Wikileaks is there, and is there to stay till it either scuttles itself or is destroyed by the forces opposing its operation. Our point is rather to (try to) pragmatically assess and ascertain what Wikileaks can, could – and maybe even, who knows, should – do, and help formulate how ’we’ could relate to and interact with Wikileaks. Despite all its drawbacks, and against all odds, Wikileaks has 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. The quantitative, fast turning qualitative, turn of information overload is a fact of present life. One can only expect the glut of disclosable information to grow further and exponentially so. To organize and interpret this Himalaya of data is a collective challenge that is clearly out there, whether we give it the name ’Wikileaks’ or not.