Good reads – 07 30 10

1. Wikileaks all the time, everywhere

There is just too much that’s interesting about the Wikileaks story and the intersections between new technologies and forms of activism and old organizations to even begin to compile and comment on, but notice:

1) how personalized the coverage by legacy news media have been (Julian Assange said this, said that) of something that is a collaborative and largely anonymous endeavor,

2) how focused the conversation in journalistic circles has been on whether the disclosure of 92,000 documents was “news” or not (and usually whether it was news to journalists and area experts, or at most a newspaper reading public), and

3) keep in mind, no matter how much you hear about how this is not a revelation on par with the Pentagon Papers, just how amazing it is that someone can share more than 91,000 documents in a searchable form not only with a few thousand professionals, but also with those of more than a billion and a half internet users who care to have a look. That Daniel Ellsberg could not do in 1971.

UPDATE: How nice to be reminded that the conversation isn’t over just because a few days passed. I felt almost embarrassed writing the above years after the story broke (and felt embarrassed feeling embarrassed, but that’s rather meta)… but look, the conversation continues. A couple of old links worth revisting here, here, and here.

2. Top Secret America

I continue to be impressed by the Washington Post’s Top Secret America series and accompanying website. Attention seem to have been fleeting in some circles, but I think this is a very valuable demonstration of how a legacy news organization can use new tools to underpin its traditional values and unfold them in new and interesting ways. As Keach Hagey of Politico put it: “The “lightning strike” came when they realized that although they couldn’t get inside these secret sites, they could physically represent them through databases and mapping.”

3. Journalisto

Oh, and then there was the whole kerfuffle over journolist, an email list of journalists, academics, and pundits, many with liberal sympathies, where some rather critical discussions played out in the run-up to the 2004 Presidential Election. The Daily Caller used some quotes from these to kick off quite a controversy. Mark Schmitt offers his take on what the list was for him, a multi-generational conversation amongst knowledgable people who disagreed, and James Fallows notes:

I have one question for people who are upset about an email list involving 400+ mainly-liberal journalists and academics: Have you ever been on a listserv? If you have, everything about the dreaded Journolist would be familiar to you. It had all of the virtues, and many of the faults, of the standard internet email list.


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