Pit Schultz on Mon, 20 Dec 2010 18:10:46 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> the banality of cyberpunk, short notes on wikileaks

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User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

hi jaromil,

> are you meaning that, in your view, there is a conspiracy behind wikileaks? 8^o

wikileaks was characterized to be run by a "warholian [...] computer
expert with two decades of hacking experience, hostility to authority,
conspiracy theorist." (guardian) hacker culture often is inspired by a
mix of cyberpunk myth, conspiracy theory, and libertarianism.

what i tried to point out is wikileaks follows a heroic narrative of
old media, it is constructed as an antagonism in the image of
hierarchic authoritarian institutions, while it still exploits and
feeds into the hirarchies of he attention economy of mass media. its
impact is indeed on the meta level, it is a story much more about the
power shift in media than about the facts that it pretends to reveal.

as media culture and pop culture is already driven by the net,  there
are no digital natives, no hacker heroes, other than the ones casted
and constructed by this overcome centralized mass attention economy,
the story of the hacker hero only works on that stage. the internet
history is full of nameless hacker heroes and anonymity is what
Assange gave up to enter the stage of mass media.
if wikileaks would be merely a product of technical culture, it would
consist of a protocol like bittorrent, represented by a hydra of
mirrors. with the existing wikileaks project the US government has
enough public backup now to get a number of censorship laws through
congress, which probably will focus on the personal responsibility of
whistleblowers and gatekeepers. the current information architecture
of wikileaks is weak and not very elaborate (besides the PR and
release tactics). the infos it has spread can be hardly classified as
state secrets or game changers, the stock market has been mostly
stoic, so much about its relevance besides this truly entertaining
opera, which brought the simulacrum of net culture to a mass media
level. there is much much more data unpublished, and the laws which
would legitimize getting access to it are hardly discussed now.

> and however, why criticise the manifestation of a "natural" process
> for "western" societies? what happens in USA marks the "mediated
> existence" of phenomena in the western world, disregarding the fact
> they existed before. so, ok. what's new with that?

Assange said: "the west has fiscalised its basic power relationships
through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so
on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because
a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic
instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect
on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. " sounds a bit like
Chomsky to me.

> ultimately i believe there is nothing bad in the mediatic storm of WL,
> if not that for people like John feels like being a debian developer
> looking at ubuntu, which hopefully won't demotivate or distract him on
> the long term.

the mediatic storm is indeed entertaining, but which kind of critical
discourse does it trigger? if consumers have to give up privacy, why
not corporations too? (they have to anyway under the new anti
terrorism laws). a new generation of technically skilled wikileaks
activists could develop tools which are much harder to trace and be
beaten by authorities than this archaic cyberpunk opera. the problem
then will be even more the validation of such sources. (the debugging)
so wikileaks is lacking the community editing part which the name is
hinting on. there is little wiki way in wikileaks, and thats the main
critique by its former supporters who are about to release "openleaks"

> For instance, in Italy a we've had Saviano's "Gomorra" just a couple
> of years ago, which was useful to revive the scene of italian
> anti-mafia journalism.

the fact that Berlusconi is still in power doesnt raise a large
believe in the power of such journalism. Italy indeed has been
described as a political laboratory for Europe in the past.

> so, nettimers.  have you ever heard of team-play? and tactical media?

how about practical media? Assange is as little of a team player as
Negri. To me the teamplayers are the nameless wiki admins, those
whistleblowers who risk their own safety and release sources,
information activists who do something for the practical and not the
tactical (symbolic) reason...


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