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Wikileaks: Good, Bad, or Meh?

December 3, 2010

With a triple-shot of damage this week, Wikileaks appears to be on the ropes. Their web host booted them off of their servers (Amazon), their DNS provider deleted them (EveryDNS), and their founder is wanted for sexual assault charges (Sweden). It has gotten so bad, that Mr. Assange’s mother has gone into hiding. Is this the end of Wikileaks? Should anyone care?

The Good:

Wikileaks provides a service. That service is to, by threat of possible exposure, force governments and corporations to be more transparent, or to at least protect their secrets a bit better. Either of these options holds positive potential for folks on both sides of the veil of secrecy.

Wikileaks makes it possible for morally-conflicted whistle blowers to let the world know of the horrors they’ve witnessed. Friendly fire, civilian massacres, betrayed allies – these are things that shouldn’t happen and their exposure to the harsh light of day may actually reduce their frequency.

Wikileaks just makes people feel more knowledgeable and aware. Such a truth teller puts the common person on par with huge international entities that would prefer the wool tightly drawn about that person’s eyes.

The Bad:

Wikileaks has compromised people and operations in extremely dangerous situations. If it hasn’t already, it will probably lead to death or torture for folks you’ve never heard of that have been doing morally ambiguous, highly dangerous, and sometimes unspeakable things in order to keep the common person safe.

Wikileaks has been over sensationalized – it has become the story it was trying to tell. A quick dive into the research stacks proves that of the total number of headlines and articles created as a result of Wikileaks’ work, an unacceptably high percentage are about Wikileaks, not the actual leaks. The point is simply being missed.

Wikileaks has given in to temptation and begun publishing absolutely anything it can get its hands on, regardless of the potential benefit, or lack thereof, to society. Is anyone in the least bit surprised by any of the “secrets” in the latest release of State Department cables? It serves only to cause embarrassment and increase tensions on a very public stage.

The Meh:

It’s just another piece of hype that outlived its usefulness. The moment has passed. The world has moved on. Meh.

Whatever your opinion, Wikileaks has been an interesting experiment in free speech, an impressive testament to the power of the internet, and another reminder of just how short the world’s attention span can be. Whatcha’ got next, Interwebs?

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