Thursday, December 09, 2010

Interesting times :


Meanwhile, I'm still trying to work out my position on the Anonymous attacks on those who've done wikileaks wrong over the last few days.

A couple of random points.

1) Despite what parts of the media are saying, wikileaks themselves are not behind the attacks. They've even sort of distanced themselves from them, kinda.

That's fair enough, wikileaks has a particular mission and a particular "modus operandi". Random DDoS is not it.

2) I think, on balance, I'm happy to see people acquiring both the tools and the will to attack financial institutions.

3) OTOH, I'm not convinced that the current DDoS attacks against MasterCard etc. are particularly important. Wikileaks, I believe, is acting significantly both at the tactical and strategic levels. And there's a real chance of a lasting effect from their actions.

I'm not sure if the same is true of Anonymous. As far as I can tell, so far, they're merely a temporary nuisance which lasts only as long as the attack takes place. And there seems no strategy except demonstrably "punishing" those who worked against or criticised wikileaks.

4) Having said that, it is impressive that they can flash a large group to act in a concerted way in defence of wikileaks. I'm also intrigued from the glimpses given by news media of the decision making process inside such a disorganization.

It's possible that Anonymous are, themselves, rapidly evolving and will be innovating more profound actions in the near future.

5) It's also interesting that a rival leaking site is springing up.

John Robb predicted in a tweet a few days ago that both external and internal forces would remove Assange from the picture. From a Robbian perspective, taking wikileaks as an "open source insurgency", Assange's role is to provide a "plausible premise" and then sit back and watch others pick up the idea and run with it. If Assange himself becomes a problem (either too discredited or too much of a bottleneck), then we expect the bazaar to route around him.

Assange's plausible premise is that leaks can get out to the public, that leaks can be effective, and that whistleblowers can be kept anonymous and safe. He's largely managed to prove that.

6) Even though the "spirit of wikileaks" may now go on without Assange, we shouldn't underestimate what he achieved. There are those who complain that he was too much of a self-publicist. More interested in his own glory than those of the leakers. That he didn't keep a low enough profile.

This is patently absurd. Assange has been a master showman and promoter of the idea of leaks. He's achieved world-wide notoriety for "his" leaks; he's ensured they're appearing on the front page of half the world's media, pretty much every day; he's inspired over a thousand people to put up mirror sites and many more to share the information via bittorrent; he's built a network of connections and collaborators in many of the world's newspapers, and (true to the wikileaks slogan that "courage is contagious") inspired the media to review its own failures.

I welcome "OpenLeaks", Cryptome etc. But don't believe for a moment that they're somehow doing a better job than Assange is by making themselves less controversial.

7) Even if I'm a supporter of Wikileaks and an admirer of Assange for his role, I don't have any opinion on whether he's a rapist or not. His greatness in one arena does not give him a free pass in another. I'm against the misogynist crap that people are throwing at his accusers.

8) Even if Assange is guilty of rape to a degree deserving of serious imprisonment we should still resist the idea that he should be extradited to the US. The US is no longer a country in which we can have faith that the rule of law or human rights will be protected. It is guilty of torture and imprisoning people without trial for years. It has politicians openly advocating Assange's murder. And a constitution which is no longer respected by the ruling elits. It ought to be on the black-list of countries from which we accept asylum seekers.

1 comment:

John Powers said...

LoL I thank you mostly because my thought are random. In that vein a couple of links. Tom Scott's IgNite video--20 slide presentations--about flash mobs gone bad is pretty smart if you haven't seen it yet. Also there's a New Yorker piece on a stash of drafts of Eisenhower's military-industrial complex speech here The shorter version is yeah Ike really was concerned.

The most hopeful part of the WikiLeaks story is so many people are facing up to feeling uncertain and perhaps that will be a catalyst for moving beyond narratives which spur knee-jerk reactions.