I spent eight years at InfoWorld working as a gossip columnist and know a thing or two about news leaks. So here is the gossip columnist’s view of this week’s huge Wikileaks story about U. S. diplomatic cables. It comes down, frankly, to a squandered opportunity. [...]
Wikileaks, in contrast, is anarchistic joiurnalism. Wikileaks takes the approach of just dumping on the web the actual documents for the rest of us to dig around in. One shot and they are done, which isn’t journalism but IS news. In one sense this is very generous in that anyone with time on their hands can probably dig through that material and find an untold story or two, but from the perspective of a professional journalist it is squandering material for the sake of spectacle. Wikileaks is just showing-off.
And Stross thinks he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize! I kinda don't think they give those to anarchists, though.
Wikileaks is not attacking the US government; rather, it's acting to degrade the ability of pressure groups to manipulate the US government to their own ends. Those who benefit the most from their ability to manipulate the State Department are the most angry about this: autocratic middle eastern leaders, authoritarian right-wing politicians, royalty, corporate cartels. Those of us who are scratching our heads and going "huh?" about the significance of Muammar Ghadaffi's botox habit are missing the point: it's not about the content, but about the implication that the powerful can no longer count on their ability to lie to the public without being called on it.
When a visitor surfs into the YouPorn homepage, a script running on the website checks to see what other porn sites that person has been to.
It's based on your browser changing the color of links you've already clicked on. A script on the site exploits a Web privacy leak to quickly check and see whether your browser reveals that the links to a host of other porn sites have been assigned the color "purple," meaning you've clicked them before.
Haskell researcher Dutch Van Der Linde explained how they had stumbled on the theoretical possibility of Briars and his persistent interest in Haskell. "We knew that there are precisely 38 people who give a shit about Haskell," said Van Der Linde, "because every Haskell-related reddit post gets exactly 38 upvotes. It's a pure, deterministic function of no arguments -- that is, the result is independent of what we actually announce. But there are only 37 of us on our mailing list, so we figured there was a lurker somewhere."
"That, or it was an off-by-1 error not detectable by our type system," Van Der Linde added. "But we don't, uh, like to dwell on, I mean with good unit testing practices we can, um... sorry, I need to get some water."
Information conduits like Julian Assange shock us out of that complacency. Oh, sure, he's a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he's a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I'd like you to meet.
The idea of WikiLeaks is scarier than anything the organization has leaked or anything Assange has done because it restores our distrust in the institutions that control our lives. It reminds people that at any given time, a criminal dossier worth exposing is squirreled away in a database someplace in the Pentagon or at Foggy Bottom.